Opera + Classical Music Reviews

The Jubilee String Quartet performs Schubert on a Sunday morning

15 May 2022


A masterpiece of the quartet repertoire shines at the Wigmore Hall.

Wigmore Hall

Wigmore Hall (Photo: Benjamin Ealovega)

Sunday mornings have an atmosphere all of their own at the Wigmore Hall, where sixty minutes of wondrous music is followed by a sociable coffee or glass of sherry. This concert from The Jubilee String Quartet certainly seemed to epitomise that notion of the ‘divine hour’ by offering just a single composition and one that is a masterpiece by any measure: Schubert’s String Quartet No. 15 in G major, D887 of 1826.

The Jubilee String Quartet is so named because its four founding members lived on the Jubilee Line when it was formed in 2006, and its performance here was characterised by sensitivity, subtlety, balance and attention to detail. From the very opening to the Allegro molto moderato a perfect sense of intrigue was brought to the playing. Other performances may reveal more attack at the start, but the strength of this rendering derived from the way in which the four parts played so tightly together that the tenderness that is inherent in the piece was felt to the full. Indeed, it was the fact that the pace did not feel forced in any way that made the output feel so natural.

As the first violin’s solo line was supported by the tremolo effect on the other strings, the understated quality in the playing came to the fore as the micromanagement of the ‘rumble’ produced great dividends. In each of the repetitions of this solo line in the first movement there was always something new to catch the ear, yet these progressions taken altogether still created a very satisfying and unifying whole, before the close to the movement saw the quartet produce a sound that was as rich as it was precise.

“…its performance here was characterised by sensitivity, subtlety, balance and attention to detail”

In the Andante un poco moto the quartet seemed to delve even deeper into the piece as it captured the slow movement’s march rhythms and upward violin glissandos extremely well. The third movement also saw wonderful tremolo effects from cellist Toby White, in which the security and control exerted over them meant they were highly effective without ever feeling histrionic. The Allegro assai revealed the immaculate interaction between first violin Tereza Privratska and second violin Julia Loucks, whether they were playing lines of ‘equal’ worth together or each leading different sections. There was indeed never any sense of one player dominating the proceedings as Privratska, Loukis, White and violist Lorena Cantó Woltèche produced a strikingly balanced sound throughout the piece.

Other performances of this quartet may feel bolder, but the fact that this one never seemed to be overtly driven meant that we did not consciously think about the pace at which it was being played. While the definitive performance of this quartet might see the same levels of balance and control as were achieved here combined with a little more flair and attack, in practice any attempt to strive more for the latter would have undermined the tenderness, intrigue and subtlety that this ensemble so beautifully, and seemingly effortlessly, achieved on a delightful Sunday morning at the Wigmore Hall.

• For details of all of The Jubilee String Quartet’s future events visit its website

• For dates and details of all upcoming Sunday morning concerts visit the Wigmore Hall website.


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The Jubilee String Quartet performs Schubert on a Sunday morning