The concert given by the Alkyona String Quartet was a wonderful end to this season. The quartet line up was Emma Purslow, violin; Marike Kruup, violin; Claire Newton, viola and Jobine Siekman, cello. This concert was generously sponsored by Steve Boycott.

The concert began with Beethoven’s String Quartet Opus 18 No 3 in D major. What a wonderful mellow sound from the cello in the first movement. All the players showed great musicality and what lyrical playing. In the final movement there was such a rich sound – it was like bathing in music.

Then we heard the String Quartet No 7 Opus 108 by Shostakovich, this was composed in 1960 and dedicated to his first wife who had died in 1954. Their marriage, I understand was volatile. The piece has humorous passages and in part an insistent beat. Was she nagging him I wondered, then there was a dissonance on all instruments and it all sounded like a monstrous quarrel; I felt some relief when that was over! This was a piece excitingly played and very colourful.

After the interval came the highlight of the evening; Schubert’s String Quartet D810 “Death and the Maiden”. This was played by the Quartet for the first time in concert and I understand from Steve Boycott that it had been learned specifically for this concert; it was an opportunity to learn it and play it for real and it’s now gone into their repertoire for the future (Emma Purslow). Death and the Maiden is a very dark subject, written in minor keys. Nevertheless it is quite lively in places, a dance of death and finally the maiden succumbs. The second movement shows Schubert’s genius in writing variations and the final movement asks who can stand against death?

The Quartet has a bright sound and the rapport and communication between the players was very evident throughout. The comments from members of the audience after the concert was very positive and it was felt that the players deserved the sustained applause they received at the end. It is hoped that they will make a return visit to us in another season.