Carducci String Quartet, Pump Roon, Leamington January 25.
Beauchamp Sinfonietta, Leamington town hall, January 27.
LEAMINGTON Music’s 2013 Pump Room series welcomed the Carducci Quartet for the first of two visits in the first half of the year – they will make a second visit during the Festival Weekend from 3 to 7 May, a highlight of the year for many concert regulars in the Leamington environs.
Fresh from ‘playing a blinder’ at the Wigmore Hall and an Aldeburgh residency, and looking forward to their Washington Kennedy Centre event, Carducci opened up with Haydn’s Opus 74 No 3 nicknamed Horseman or The Rider thanks to the cantering rhythms in the opening movement and the galloping rhythm in the last. This was the night cellist Emma Denton showed her effortless, lyrical playing - most particularly in the delightful largo. She then took control of the first movement of Britten’s Quartet No 1 plucking the distinctive melody line whilst her companions were challenged by high register playing. There was hint that a few of these top register notes were becoming ‘separated’. The Pump Room is a small venue and requires a readjustment from the approach adopted at the Maltings or the Wigmore.
Beauchamp chose Sibelius for their 2013 debut. And what a good choice – Finlandia followed by Lemminkäinen’s Return. Seldom, if ever, have I heard a more enthusiastically delivered performance; simply magnificent brass and percussion contributions. Roger Coull is a very engaging conductor and took responsibility for leading and playing Bach’s Violin Concerto No 1. The way he phrases things in both the conductor role and as soloist is a fine skill.
Brass and percussion returned after the interval for a rousing performance of Dvorak’s Symphony No 8 with its precipitous ending. Fortunately nothing serious fell away or off during the gorgeous Slavonic folk song interpretations and waltz-like third movement. Beauchamp are in good shape at present, although the cellos and double basses require strengthening. An exciting year is ahead.