The Elias Quartet
Manchester Chamber Concerts Society
Royal Northern College of Music, 27 September 2010
The Elias Quartet is made up of Sara Bittloch and Donald Grant on violins, Martin Saving on viola and Marie Bittloch on cello. They delighted the audience with a programme of works from the likes of Henry Purcell, Maurice Ravel and Franz Schubert.
The first portion, Fantasia No. 5 in B flat (1680) and Fantasia No. 3 in G minor (1679), both by Henry Purcell, put one in mind of continually unfolding leaves and petals. Horseback visions momentarily shimmering, dissolving much too soon.
Maurice Ravel‘s String Quartet in F major (1903) was a complex work of many moods. It conjured colours which bled into one another. Perhaps the first movement was the most richly evocative, but the following ones fed the imagination as well. One was subject to an irresistible onrush of melody and concomitant images. As they say, it was all good.
The final piece was Franz Schubert’s String Quartet in D minor (1824), a sombre work in the main; but bright dots of light alleviated the gloom. For this one, Schubert pillaged his song ‘Death and the Maiden’, snazzling a good number of variations out of it. This was a fine, intense performance of the composer’s late meditation on mortality, and Marie Bittloch’s sometimes gruff cello was gorgeous to hear.
The Elias Quartet are wonderful musicians and they work hard too. Now if only they fought evil: I could then call them the Fantastic Four.
This was one of a series of concerts organised by the Manchester Chamber Concerts Society. For details of future concerts, click here.