Helene Clement of the Doric String Quartet feels that she has something in common with Harry Potter – just as his wand chose him "the bow chooses you. The bow I just bought inspires me to play differently… It's a constant dialogue". Mind you, it can't hurt that she is playing an 1843 Giussani which previously belonged to Benjamen Britten.
In many ways the concert began at the beginning – of the string quartet, that is.
As The Jane Austen Centre Bulletin tells us "Haydn is often called the "Father of the Symphony" and "Father of the String Quartet" because of his important contributions to these genres. He was also instrumental in the development of the piano trio and in the evolution of sonata form".
A life-long resident of Austria, Joseph Haydn spent much of his career as a court musician for the wealthy Hungarian aristocratic Esterházy family on their remote estate. Isolated from other composers and trends in music until the later part of his long life, he was, as he put it, "forced to become original".
Part of Haydn's originality is his humour. The most famous example is the sudden loud chord in the slow movement of his Surprise symphony; Haydn's many other musical jokes include numerous false endings (e.g., in the quartet Op. 33).
Then came the Brett Dean. Let me confess that it is the kind of music that, had I been hearing it on the radio, I might well have changed stations. And it would have been my loss.
In introducing his quartet, Dean notes the work had been conceived against the background of Brexit (and) also alludes to the noise and mutterings that express the "hidden agendas" of politics. He writes " The music ranges from highly combustible and physical, through vividly virtuosic, to plaintively searching and intimate, even at times barely audible, including the use of bows without rosin in Part IV. Above all, I hope it provides the listener with an interesting, possibly even thought-provoking way of spending 25 minutes of their time."
Given that I was a captive audience, and given the passion and energy that the Doric Quartet were investing in the piece, it was the least I could do to focus on the music.