Archive for April, 2011

Review of the Bridge String Quartet playing The Seven Last Words from the Cross in The Lady Chapel Ely Cathedral on Friday 22nd April 2011

April 23, 2011

 Good Friday (April 22nd) in the Lady Chapel, Ely Cathedral featured a most appropriate concert performed by a first-class string quartet: the Bridge String Quartet. Colin Twigg (violin), Catherine Schofield (violin), Michael Schofield (viola) and Lucy Wilding (‘cello) synchronized perfectly in their performance of The Seven Last Words from the Cross by Josef Haydn. This particular part of the Cathedral is renowned for its echoing acoustics yet these musicians created an awe-inspiring texture of clear, firm, warm harmonies and sequences that centred perfectly on the core of the notes.  These performers knew what they were doing and throughout the concert they balanced perfectly, their wonderful control allowing key melodic phrases to rise magnificently over a web of subtle differences and changes of expression.

This work was in seven movements. After an affirmative introduction, each movement was preceded by a reading of meditations by Canon David Pritchard and these texts formed the inspiration for the following movements.   Haydn himself had commented how difficult it was to compose so many consecutive slow movements without ‘fatiguing’ the audience but these instrumentalists managed to create enough variety to hold the interest with their phenomenal technique as they eased every nuance of expression from the score.

Even soft, repeated notes were given new life in Father, forgive them …     The next movement, Today thou shalt be with me in Paradise contained an uplifting pizzicato section in which plucked strings added lightness after the lyrical melancholic melodic material of the violin. Woman, behold they son …  featured an especially warm texture with full contributions from all members of the quartet. This was followed by the music of My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me? which almost sang the words of the text especially in the opening poignant ‘cry’. Pizzicato again brought a change of colour in I thirst. The successive short notes pictured droplets of water which soon developed to reflect the feelings of anxiety the text inspired. Long sweeping unison notes embraced the finality of It is finished while in Father, into Thy hands I commend my spirit the instruments almost breathed a sensation of resignation before breaking out into the shocking drama of The earthquake.

The concert was very well supported and was a most fitting introduction to Easter.