This young French quartet opened their concert with an immaculate performance of Beethoven’s early quartet Opus 18 No. 6. This is a difficult work which poses problems of syncopation and balance, but begins with a jocular first movement of answering phrases, and they caught the atmosphere successfully, as well as negotiating the complex rhythmic patterns of the later Scherzo.
The next work in the programme was the even more difficult Op.5 and Op.9 of Webern, a pupil of Schoenberg who, like his teacher, shunned the tonal world of music after making his debut with rich harmonies in the style of Wagner. The Akilone gave an impressive performance which was quite spell-binding in its intensity and helped the audience to make sense of this complex work.
The final work in the programme was Schumann’s Opus 41 No.1. After a somewhat acerbic opening, the players relaxed into the romantic passages with the required warmth of tone. The leader seemed to have more difficulty than the others in achieving this but her brilliant technique won the day.
I had the privilege of hearing this talented quartet two days later in the completely different acoustic of St Christopher’s Church in Haslemere. They repeated their brilliant account of the Webern pieces and in both concerts, they deserved the warm reception of the capacity audiences.