REVIEW: Terry Barfoot with the Navarra String Quartet, Funtington Music Group, University of Chichester

Navarra
Navarra

Terry Barfoot, with the renowned Navarra String Quartet, presented a fascinating evening about the life and works of Franz Joseph Haydn, ‘father’ of the string quartet.

In the first half of the evening, Terry Barfoot gave us an introduction to Haydn’s string quartets, the musicians playing excerpts from some of Haydn’s key works. The second half of the evening was devoted to a complete performance of the Sunrise String Quartet in B flat major, Op. 76 No. 4

Terry explained that Haydn had continued to write string quartets throughout his years of employment with the Esterhazy family from 1761 until 1790, even though these compositions were not required in connection with his formal duties. He therefore did so because of the ‘creative rewards and possibilities’ that were clear to Haydn’s contemporaries, notably Mozart (who dedicated a set of wonderful quartets to him) and Beethoven. These were brought to life for us by Terry with selected movements played by the Navarra String Quartet.

Terry’s presentation was supported by a well chosen set of slides which put into context Haydn’s working environment and its key players, including the palaces he lived and worked in, and portraits of many of Haydn’s patrons. The Navarra String Quartet played excerpts from all the key periods of Haydn’s creative quartet writing. The movements were chosen to show Haydn’s stylistic and technical development of the quartet medium into “a partnership of equals”, and some of his musical fingerprints - his great intelligence, humanity, wonderful sense of humor and wit.

After the interval, the evening concluded with a detailed examination by Terry Barfoot of Haydn’s Sunrise Quartet, followed by a complete performance by the Navarra Quartet. The Sunrise nickname arises from the way in which the first violin’s melody at the very beginning unfolds so beautifully. The Navarra’s performance was wonderfully lyrical and full of light and shade. The second movement, a grave Adagio, began with a hushed, intense opening and as the movement developed, the interplay of the instruments, with the highly expressive first violin and cello, was superb. The minuet with its bucolic trio provided a perfect contrast, the players animated and rhythmical. The concluding Allegro ma non troppo was a treat, building superbly to the exultant final coda.

The appreciative audience responded with a warm and well-deserved extended ovation. David Tinsley, Chairman of the Funtington Music Group, thanked Terry Barfoot for his masterful and fascinating introduction and summed up by saying that “The Navarra are at the top of their game. Their integrated playing and fine ensemble are quite brilliant”. A wonderful evening for our final concert of the season!

Funtington Music Group has just announced its Programme for 2016. Please contact our Membership Secretary for further details on 01243 378900 or visit our website www.funtingtonmusicgroup.org.uk

Chris Hough

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