Consone Quartet

Upper Chapel, Sheffield
Saturday 2 March 2024, 7.00pm

£14 UC, DLA or PIP
£5 Under 35s & Students 

Past Event
Players from the Consone String Quartet with their instruments

HAYDN String Quartet in D ‘The Lark’ (15’)
HENSEL-MENDELSSOHN String Quartet in E flat (21’)
R SCHUMANN Bilder aus Osten, Op.66 (extracts arr. Friedrich Hermann) (8’)
MENDELSSOHN String Quartet in F minor, Op.80 (26’) 

Recent BBC New Generation Artists, the Consone Quartet comprises four sensitive and spirited musicians who have formed a dynamic ensemble prized for expressive interpretations of Classical and Romantic repertoire rooted in a profound understanding of the music and its time. They perform music by Fanny Mendelssohn and her brother Felix, alongside one of Haydn’s most popular string quartets and some glorious lyrical writing from Robert Schumann.   

“I’ve really enjoyed the sound of their gut strings with period bows, the almost viol-like melancholy it adds in places alongside the velvety clarity of textures and lovingly applied expressive slides elsewhere.” Andrew McGregor on BBC Radio 3 Record Review

Save £s when you book for 5 Music in the Round concerts or more at the same timeFind out more here.

View the brochure for our Sheffield 2024 concerts online here or download it below.


HAYDN Joseph, String Quartet in D Op.64, No.5 ‘Lark’

It was the soaring violin theme at the start of the first movement which gave this quartet its nickname, in a movement which wears its learning lightly, transforming the main melody in inventive ways right up to its final appearance. The hymn-like Adagio cantabile (with a contrasting minor-key central section) is followed by a Minuet which combines the feeling of a rustic dance with sophisticated motivic development. The finale is an exciting virtuoso display with almost continuous activity, but also some ingenious elements of contrast (such as the passage where the rushing main idea is treated fugally). 


Composed in 1790, Haydn’s Op.64 quartets were the earliest to receive their premieres at public concerts rather than at intimate gatherings of connoisseurs, and the finale of The Lark must have electrified its large audience – and delighted the composer himself: at the invitation of Johann Peter Salomon, Haydn arrived in England on New Year’s Day 1791 and remained there for the next 18 months. When the Quartets were published by the London firm of John Bland in June 1791, the title page announced that they had been ’composed by Giuseppe Haydn and perform’d under his direction at Mr Salomon’s concert, the Festino Rooms, Hanover Square’.  


© Nigel Simeone 

HENSEL-MENDELSSOHN Fanny, String Quartet in E flat

In the last couple of decades, the increasing interest in Fanny Hensel-Mendelssohn’s music has demonstrated beyond doubt that her brother Felix was not the only member of the family with extraordinary gifts. 


Fanny’s only String Quartet dates from 1834 but has its origins in an earlier piano sonata from 1829. That was never completed but its first two movements were reworked as the Adagio and Scherzo of the present quartet which was given its first performance at her Berlin salon in 1834. The formal freedom of this quartet is one of its most remarkable features, beginning with an intense, fantasia-like Adagio that begins in C minor before gradually working towards the home key of E flat by the end of the movement. The Scherzo in C minor, with a Trio section in C major, has something an elfin quality, whereas the following Romanze is a deeply-felt movement that shifts between G minor and major with some surprising detours into remote keys. The finale is a Rondo whose main theme (in tumbling thirds on the violins) dominates this movement, an exciting moto perpetuo. 


© Nigel Simeone 

SCHUMANN Robert, Bilder aus Osten, Op.66

Robert Schumann wrote Bilder aus Osten (‘Pictures from the East’) for piano four-hands in December 1848, as a Christmas present for his wife Clara. According to a preliminary note by Robert in the first edition, the pieces were inspired by the poet Friedrich Rückert’s German translations of Arabic Maqāmāt (tales of Arabic life). The central character of Rückert’s selection, Abu Seid, was likened by Robert to Germany’s own folk character Till Eulenspiegel and Schumann wrote that his aim in these pieces was to ‘express oriental poetry and thinking in our own art, as has already been done in German poetry’. 


Violinist Friedrich Hermann (1828–1907) studied with Felix Mendelssohn and Ferdinand David, played in the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra and became professor of violin at the Leipzig Conservatory. His string quartet transcriptions of Bilder aus Osten demonstrate great skill in reimagining Schumann’s piano duets for entirely different forces, with thoroughly convincing results.  


© Nigel Simeone 

MENDELSSOHN Felix, String Quartet in F minor, Op.80

The last of Felix Mendelssohn’s string quartets was composed in August–September 1847 at Interlaken, a few months after the death of his sister, Fanny Hensel-Mendelssohn. Written as an instrumental Requiem in her memory, it was completed shortly before Mendelssohn’s own death. The first movement is defiant and agitated, while the Scherzo is most unlike Mendelssohn’s usual Scherzo style: this is earnest, dark and intense music. The deeply-felt Adagio is the emotional heart of the work, and the movement that is most obviously elegiac in character. The uneasy start of the finale, marked by syncopations and trills, finds moments of lyricism (including some self-quotations) as well as outbursts of anger. Few works in Mendelssohn’s output are so personal, and so overtly emotional. Though Mendelssohn heard the work played privately, the first public performance took place after his death. It was given in Leipzig by a quartet led by Joseph Joachim at a memorial concert on 4 November 1848 – the first anniversary of Mendelssohn’s death.  


© Nigel Simeone 

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