Musical gems at Leighton Library on Saturday 29th November 2014

The Manor House String Quartet is a shifting combination of very fine classical string players organised by and around Vaughan Jones, their principal violin. The members all have other commitments with orchestras etc, and come together to play chamber music in concerts, for weddings and other occasions They enjoy unearthing unusual repertoire. The music they played for us certainly proved what a fruitful and enjoyable activity delving into the archives can be. Mr Jones specifically mentioned the Merton music library (which is continually adding to its founder’s collection of little-played scores discovered in unlikely places). I give the URL here, as I know that many people locally are interested in music-making: http://www.ourtext.co.uk/acatalog/Merton_reprints.html

After a very few bars it was obvious this was going to be a lush evening. They began with an early string quartet by Beethoven (Op 18, no 5) and followed this with one by Beethoven’s secretary, copyist and friend, Ferdinand Ries. This was inspired programming as one could hear how Ries had brought in elements of his friend’s style while still producing something that was much more than a copy of Beethoven. It was melodic, sunny, robust – and so little heard that the quartet played from photocopies of scores hand-written by the composer. As Mr Jones pointed out, Beethoven was such a giant of his time that he pushed many perfectly tuneful composers out of the limelight. How delightful to be introduced to one such by these talented and knowledgeable musicians.

The second half was given over to Schubert’s luscious and deservedly well-known “Rosamunde” quartet (D804). Poor Schubert did not write happy music – but if you want intense, yearning, soulful and wistful he’s your go-to guy. A beautifully measured end to an extremely pleasurable evening.

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