A fine quartet playing an interesting selection of music.
They started with Haydn's Quartet in D, Op 50 No. 6 The Frog so
called because of techniques used in the final movement. It also has themes
from his little known work Das Verbrante Haus. Beautifully played
it maintained my interest to the end despite the first violin's somewhat
disconcerting dress sense.
They closed the first half with Britten's Quartet No 3, Op 94. A beautiful piece, composed after his stroke and just before his death, in which his sorrows and concerns are combined with a sense of urgency, maybe to complete the work before his time came. Moving and serene at times, with bursts of strident activity, the musicians brought out all the feeling in the piece.
The second half was taken up with Beethoven's Quartet in C, Op 59 No 3 Rasumovsky. A Classical piece, maybe even old-fashioned, but considered technically difficult, the Belcea quartet are obviously comfortable with it. Playing ensemble and virtuosi parts with an ease that many other quartets would find impossible.
The only criticism I can make is the appalling dress sense of the musicians. From the first violin's see-through blouse, giving a fine view of her left armpit under her bra strap to the untucked fawn moleskin shirt of the viola player. I know I shouldn't let these things influence me, but honestly!
However, the excellent interplay between them in such passages as the duets in the Britten, their playing ensemble in the Haydn and Beethoven and their virtuosi solo work in all three works set this quartet apart.
Look out for them, and listen to the snippets on their website (I reckon the Bartok samples are particularly good). We will see them again.