Mozart Fest, Bath Guildhall and Assembly Rooms

THE views of Jurgen Klopp, manager of Premier League club Liverpool, on the subject of early kick offs are well known.

He dislikes them intensely. This is reflected incidentally in the patchy results teams under his management have achieved.

With that in mind, I wondered about the wisdom of asking the three bright young musicians who make up the Sitkovetsky Trio to start their programme of music by Haydn and Schubert at the Guildhall at 1pm.

Unlike Mr Klopp, violinist Alexander Sitkovetsky, cellist Isang Enders and pianist Wu Qian, had no qualms about an early kick off. They bounded into Haydn’s Piano Trio in G major (Gypsy Rondo) with a gleeful abandonment, but never ill disciplined, usually reserved for three friends playing purely for their own enjoyment. It was a style in keeping with the composer original ideas.

A more intense mood took over for Schubert’s Piano Trio in E flat major. It is a work that can become dominated by the pianist, but although Wu Qian was given free rein to express her passion for the music, she always remembered that this is a trio of musicians who thrive on team work. It was that teamwork that brought out all the strong masculine flavour of this work, the Sitkovetsky Trio forming as potent a strike force as Liverpool’s highly successful attacking trio of Firmino, Mane, and Salah.

The elegant surroundings of the Assembly Rooms were an ideal venue for the more traditional evening performance of music by Mozart, Shostakovich and Brahms by the Takacs Quartet. Established more than 40 years ago at the Music Academy of Budapest, the quartet has had several changes of personnel over the years, including two comparatively recently. None of these changes have weakened the wonderful feeling that here we have four musicians who love making music together.

There was an intimacy about their playing of Mozart’s String Quartet in G minor that filled it with a lovely sense of serenity, a serenity that was quickly shattered by Shostakovich’s String Quartet No 4 in D major. Written in 1949 at the height of his clashes with Joseph Stalin, it has an angry discordant tone to it which the quartet readily embraced.

Brahms’ String Quartet which closed the programme with its prevailing lyricism, returned the concert back to a tranquil mood more fitting to its surroundings,  allowed the Takacs Quartet an opportunity to show the versatility of playing, an opportunity they took with in a manner that made this difficult task look deceptively easy.


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