Beaming live from The Stoller Hall on 16th April, the Victoria String Quartet will perform an emotion-filled programme of Mozart, Beethoven and Puccini.
The Victoria String Quartet made its debut at, and took its name from, the historic Victoria Baths in Manchester, renowned for its magnificent stained glass and mosaics. The members of the Quartet – Benedict Holland (violin), David Greed (violin), Kim Becker (viola), Jennifer Langridge (cello) – share a wealth of experience in chamber music between them: Sorrel quartet, Psappha Ensemble, Music Group of Manchester, Nossek Quartet and Kirkman Quartet to name but a few.
Much in demand, the Victoria String Quartet have performed at venues and festivals across the UK, with a recent highlight being the Buxton International Festival. Closer to home, they’ve performed at The Bridgewater Hall and also The Stoller Hall, where they make their live return tonight.
The Quartet will kick off the concert with Mozart’s String Quartet No. 21 in D Major. The work is the first of the Prussian Quartets (the composer’s final string quartets) which, originally written for King Friedrich Wilhelm II, were later sold to a publisher “for a mockery of a fee, only to lay my hands on some money to keep myself going.”
The King’s instrument was the cello, and so Mozart pushes this instrument to the fore in many places, balanced by soloistic opportunities for other instruments – a style called quatuor concertant which was particularly popular in Paris. This delicate and elegant work abounds with lovely arching melodies underpinned by typically effortless contrapuntal writing.
Next in the programme is Puccini’s Crisantemi, which takes the striking chrysanthemum flower as its inspiration. Puccini is, of course, best known for his operas, however he did write some instrumental gems – among them four string quartets, three minuets and this work, which is an elegy to his friend Prince Amedeo of Savoy, who formerly reigned as King of Spain.
Puccini’s mastery of string writing is abundantly evident in this short work, which conjures a concentrated dark mood as the four instruments pay tribute to Puccini’s friend. Puccini clearly thought much of the two main melodies used in Crisantemi, as he reused them in the last act of his opera Manon Lescaut three years later in 1893.
Finally, we’ll hear Beethoven’s Quartet in F minor, Op. 95, commonly referred to as the ‘Serioso’. One of the shortest and most compact of all Beethoven quartets, it nevertheless contains a huge variety of material and ranges wildly in character. Its mysterious, elegiac opening soon gives way to an Allegretto filled with disturbing and prodigious modulations. A fierce scherzo then breaks in abruptly, before a fleet-footed finale, brimming with irrepressible life.
To hear the Victoria Quartet performing this great programme on 16th April, head over to The Stoller Hall’s website, where advance tickets can be purchased for £10 (individual) and £15 (family).