Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Danish maestri

Here are the bright stars who make up the Danish String Quartet, playing an encore at the end of a taxing programme at the Pittville Pump Room. My neighbour confided that she doesn't approve of encores after a major work such as what made up the second half yesterday evening - Beethoven Op 127. Nor does she like quartets "without a pair of clean shoes between them." (The four did indeed resemble, not so much a string quartet as a pop group.)

However, I was in no position to strike up an argument with someone so kind: I turned up at the box office just a few minutes before the concert, but before I could buy myself a ticket, she had thrust one into my hands and wouldn't hear of my paying her for it. When my other neighbour likewise thrust a spare programme in my direction, I realised it was my lucky evening.

And very good it was too, to hear such uninhibited playing, particularly in early pieces by Nielsen and Thomas Adès, which made up the first half. When it comes to the Beethoven, I'm spoilt by having the Hungarian and the Lindsays' recordings and also (since Gloucestershire Libraries' giveaway sale the other weekend - incomprehensible!) a boxed set of performances by the brilliant Takács.

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