Malvern Concert Club opened its new season on 29 September with the Chiaroscuro Quartet playing three familiar string quartets on authentic instruments. Played with minimal vibrato, very pure tuning and a fine sensitivity to phrasing and texture, these instruments can bring familiar music alive in relevatory ways, as Chiascuro amply demonstrated.

The first half of the concert comprised Mozart’s G major Quartet and Haydn’s D minor Quartet, composed some fifteen years later. Both works contrast classical poise with a more Romantic sensitivity, qualities Chiaroscuro brought into sharp relief. The many rapid violin passages in the Mozart had a gossamer-like delicacy, but the ensemble could snarl or chunter as required, or throw classical poise to the wind as in the finale. Similarly, the slow movement of the Haydn was a gentle courtly dance, standing in stark contrast to the obsessive canons in the ‘Menuetto’ or the very fast finale.

After the interval came Schubert’s Death and the Maiden Quartet. The first movement was taken very fast, with darkly-toned pianissimos and violent, astringent fortes. Just what these period instruments can achieve in this repertoire was magically demonstrated at the end of the first movement when the dark minor chords became mysterious, very deep. This was a fascinating and rewarding concert, appreciated by an enthusiastic and supportive audience.

Our next concert is on Thursday 27 October at 7.30pm in the Forum Theatre, Malvern, when distinguished pianist Imogen Cooper makes a welcome return to Malvern after too long an absence. Tickets are available from Malvern Theatres Box Office (01684 892277) and details of programme and club membership may be found at