Elias String Quartet: St George’s Church: Brighton Festival Review

May 22, 2013


String Quartet in A major Op. 18 No. 5
String Quartet in C major Op. 59 No. 3, ‘Rasumovsky’ 
String Quartet in C sharp minor Op. 131

The last of the Elias Quartet’s trio of concerts exploring and celebrating Beethoven’s string quartets culminated in the Op. 131 quartet, Beethoven’s personal favourite of his late quartets. Schumann, himself a master of the form, admired the late quartets for ‘…the grandeur of which no words can express. They seem to me to stand… on the extreme boundary of all that has hitherto been attained by human art and imagination.’ Before that, the Op. 18 quartet looked back to Mozart while the Op. 59, composed for the Russian ambassador to Vienna, Prince Rasumovsky, had a Russian tinge.

The cello playing was exceptional, but then all the musicians tonight were astonishing, each a vibrant part of the whole with subtle and sophisticated expression and playing which allowed the music to soar, their phrasing was spot on. This is an enchantingly expressive quartet filled with moments of theatricality whilst maintaining a ruthless determination to bring every note out into the auditorium and fill the space with the composer’s complex meaning.


This was an excellent evening of ensemble playing, the Elias Quartet are on top of their game right now, with an intense projection of their combined will into the auditorium which connected with this most eccentric of Beethoven pieces to bring a real sense of darling to the concert and delight the audience.

You can see more of the Beethoven recital project here on their dedicated website where they are documenting the project:

These three interesting pieces which show Beethoven less showy and grand but in movement between the classical and the introspective romantic whilst still maintaining the tight and close reliance on rhythm and melody that makes these quartets such a rewarding listening experience.

See the Elias Quartet website here for future performances:

This was an exceptional evening of musical accomplishment and a real highlight of the festival for me so far, the Elias Quartet are simply superb.