skip to Main Content

Powerful, yet deeply considered interpretations

Musical Opinion, Paul Conway

Now in its 41st year, the Presteigne Festival continues to offer an unrivalled combination of top-flight music-making and inventive, thoughtfully constructed concerts in the idyllic setting of Radnorshire…

The evening of 25 August brought an ambitious, wide-ranging recital by the Solem Quartet. Framed by powerful, yet deeply considered interpretations of Bartók’s Third String Quartet and Janáček’s String Quartet No 1 ‘Kreutzer Sonata’, at the heart of the programme lay two contrasting, warmly expressive works by British composers with an innate feel for the intimacy of chamber repertoire. John McCabe’s Sixth String Quartet, ‘Silver Nocturnes’ (2011) fuses elements of string quartet and song cycle to form a gravely beautiful elegy. Sung with dramatic fervour by baritone Julien Van Mellaerts, the texts were written by three of the ‘Silver Poets’ of the 16th-century, framed by extracts from a speech by John of Gaunt in Shakespeare’s Richard II. McCabe reserved his most intense and intricate material for the Interlude, scored for the stringed instruments alone, the composer perhaps accepting that music begins where words leave off. This moving performance was a timely reminder of the potency and sophistication of John McCabe’s music. Contrasting with the solemn elegance of Silver Nocturnes, Roxanna Panufnik’s Heartfelt (2019) was an uplifting celebration of life, inspired by such diverse sources as the heartbeat of a brown bear and Uzbek and Bulgarian folk tunes.

The captivatingly offbeat result of this avid eclecticism was a cogently argued narrative that, in the safe hands of the Solem Quartet, communicated in the composer’s own authentic musical voice.

You may also like to see...
Solem Quartet
Dedication and aplomb

Inverurie Music, A. Massey

I have no doubt that the future of classical music is safe…

The Yorkshire Times, Elaine Annable

Heartfelt brio and winningly understated virtuosity

Scunthorpe Concert Society, Clive Davies

Back To Top