Fejes Quartet

Fejes Quartet

Cottier's Theatre, Glasgow

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Michael Tumelty

Mike Lloyd, violist in Tamas Fejes's String Quartet, hit the nail on the head, twice, in his brief introduction to the group's performances at Cottier's Theatre on Monday night.

The first strike, which was typically oblique, outlined the difficulties being experienced by Mozart at the time he was writing his 23rd and last string quartet, K590: his health, his wife's health and his penury.

Yet, despite these vicissitudes, as the Fejes Quartet demonstrated, that quartet is a masterpiece of fluency, character and consummate fluidity, with Mozart, whatever else was going on in his short life, clearly transcending the limitations of his circumstances, all reflected, I felt, in the Fejes' fine performance.

And Lloyd's second strike at the nail-head was when he referred to the "magnificence" of Shostakovich's Second String Quartet, meaning its scope and scale, and its near-symphonic dimensions.

That rarely-played quartet, which received a riveting performance by the Fejes group, is light years from the first quartet, which opened the Currie and ­ Quirk-sponsored series on Saturday.

But Shostakovich, by this time, near the mid-1940s, already had eight of his symphonies under his belt and a complete command of his idiom.

So, whereas the music might have been one of his veiled attacks on Stalinism, the Second Quartet, saturated with Jewish and klezmer influences, rails overtly against anti-semitism; and all these elements, explicitly-characterised in a compelling Fejes account of the piece, resulted in a grippingly-focused and unremittingly intense performance, particularly in its impassioned Jewish accent and the great slashing chord sequences of the finale, which just pinned you to the wall.