One of the highlights of Manchester Mid-day Concerts Society’s centenary season was the world premiere of Edward Gregson’s String Quartet, performed by the Navarra Quartet at the Bridgewater Hall, Manchester on 14 January.
It is an extraordinary work, both gritty and serene. Its three movements are packed with ideas – fugues, variations, cadenzas, a chorale and a march – and he never gives you a dull moment.
The elements that most entranced me … were the sheer singing beauty of the first movement’s ethereal second theme (and of another lovely violin melody in the finale), the nostalgic atmosphere of the central fantasia, with its tenderness and mellow, modal harmonies, and the vivid reminiscences in texture and rhythm, as much as in pitch shape, as the third movement draws several threads together and soars to a sunlit resolution.
I hope the Gregson quartet is soon recorded and long to hear it again.
Robert Beale (Manchester Evening News)