Allegri Quartet, classical review: The finest of ensembles
EVENING STANDARD ARTS - 4 STARS
The Allegri Quartet's performance was appreciated by their super-attentive audience, writes Barry Millington.
The Allegri Quartet can claim to be Britain’s longest established chamber group. True, the founders, Eli Goren and William Pleeth, are no longer with us, but the present-day line-up maintains the high calibre of the original and gave an accomplished recital in the London Chamber Music Society series, itself in fine fettle under the artistic directorship of Peter Fribbins since its relocation from Conway Hall to Kings Place in 2008.
Haydn’s String Quartet in F minor, op.20, no.5, demonstrated the ensemble’s virtues in terms of intonation, unanimity and the all-important sense of shifting hierarchies, as instruments in turn take the spotlight and then recede.
The first movement of Szymanowski’s String Quartet No. 2 strongly evokes Ravel, with the occasional hint of Schoenberg’s Verklärte Nacht, and the Allegri caught its enraptured quality with their muted but silky textures.
The second movement, by contrast, recalls Bartók, while the third combines Gallic refinement with the colour of Tatra folk music from southern Poland.
All this was realised with consummate sensibility by the Allegri, who then proceeded to deliver a masterly reading of Schubert’s G major quartet, D.887, spinning its prodigal modulations with revelatory inventiveness and delving deep into the mysteries of this inscrutable late work.
The Allegri’s performance exemplified the kind of fully-functioning ecosystem that differentiates the finest ensembles from the mediocre – a fact appreciated by their super-attentive audience.