What a fantastic evening, full of energy and zest for life. We enjoyed it enormously and hearing you talk with such refreshing honesty about what you think and feel when you are playing made our listening all the more enjoyable.
The music was beautiful and then to meet again after really felt like an evening out. Ben
That was magnificent, and I am really looking forward actually to watching and listening again. Great playing, and a really well executed and intriguing concept. Brilliant! …You offered things which a live in person performance could never match - the commentary, the sense of a dedicated community, the wide options for saying hello to a range of friends and family. Amazing to have that kind of access to the players both before and after the concert. Philippa
We really enjoyed last night. Aside from the music, we cooked the whole menu! which was great fun. It was just lovely to have an occasion to prepare for and enjoy. Alison & Richard
It was a wonderful concert and will stay with me for a long time. Adrian
Nina Caplan wrote an article in the New Statesman about the Raz Club.
What a performance: perfectly tuned; fluent and onwards driving; lithe and light when required; dense and dark elsewhere.
At the start of the Allegro the musicians did not exaggerate the dynamic swells and retreats but still found a ‘rawness’ that some readings lack, and there was a swift gear change after the opening phrase which established a head-strong purposefulness, at times verging on recklessness but never quite giving in to unruly destructiveness.
The players achieved an excellent balance: Fagg and Norris sat left and right, with the viola and cello nestled within – these inner voices created a driving energy, and the movement was athletic, alert and airy. I’ve lost count of how many evenings I’ve spent playing through this quartet with friends, but here I was struck anew by the sheer busyness and diversity of Schubert’s musical material and the ceaseless transferring of the ‘paired’ voices.
The ensemble injected ebbs and flows of pulse to articulate the movement’s structure and create spaciousness, but the momentum never flagged. Before the concluding più mosso there was a cloudy darkness, and from this ominous tension flared an angry intensity which was released in the final bars. The fury burned itself out, and Schubert’s tempo primo marking became a slower diffusion of ferocity and vehemence.
A strong legato stroke and full sound were employed at the start of the slow movement, with just enough momentum to sustain a sense of the ‘con moto’ Schubert appends to his Andantemarking. Though they had not observed the exposition repeat in the preceding Allegro, here all sections were reprised: sometimes what sounded Mendelssohnian first time round took on a more Beethovian hue subsequently. The variations’ changing textures and colours were strikingly defined: a strong clean first fiddle melody supported by warm cello pizzicati and a soft churning bed within transmuted into a doleful cello theme surrounded by lacework patterns – complex, finely woven, but strong.
And, one could always hear that crotchet-quaver-quaver heartbeat pulsing. There was a real surge of intensity at the close and the cello pedal snarled, but the rhythmic unwinding of the viola’s own pedal note eased the anguish. The whispered close never lost its fulsomeness.
The sfzorandi of the Scherzo had lots of bite and grit. The tempo was not too hectic which helped to keep the elastic pulls of the hemiolas taut. And after such acerbity, came the sweetness of Trio: here the tuning and clarity of the high first-fiddle prancing and the melodicism of the lower voices were equally striking.
The litheness of the first movement returned with the concluding Presto. Perfectly synchronised dotted rhythms together with precisely matched slicing acciaccaturas and dynamic contrasts made it seem that the theme might simply launch off into the air. Then came a glorious richness of colour in the con forza episode, all the more vibrant after the barely-there diminuendo which had led into the preceding bar of silence. This was a movement of nimble passagework, sturdy chords and fervent dialogues. In the closing sprinting prestimisso, flames really did rocket the music skywards.
Many an amateur player will recognise such music-making – the players seated in a quasi-circle, musical instruments hanging on the wall, book-lined shelves and alcoves behind. ‘Normal’ musical life, as we have known it. I hope the players enjoyed the customary post-music tipple.