Stephen Upshaw/Dulcinea Quartet

Two recitals presented by Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance in Greenwich either side of the General Election should have been attended by every wannabe MP because each performance was an object lesson in how to find harmony in even the most apparently discordant scenarios – lessons all politicians need to learn given the chaotic outcome of the poll. Violist Upshaw led the first recital, at St Alfege church, with two pieces for viola and electronics by TL student James Layton and by Kaija Saariaho, and an astonishing duet with fellow violist Jennifer Stumm entitled Harmonic Horizon: Up, Down, Sideways, Round by Garth Knox, an extraordinary combination of classical beauty and modernist experimentation that could have been a dissonant disaster but in their hands was magical. He ended the recital with a marvellous Debussy sonata for which he was joined by international harpist Gabriella Dall’Olio and flute virtuoso Alice Thompson. Only a few hours after the election count revealed a hung parliament, the Dulcinea Quartet filled the chapel of the Old Royal Naval College with a challenging programme of compositions by Elizabeth Maconchy, Judith Weir and Mendelssohn. The latter two were gorgeously played, but the highlight was Maconchy’s String Quartet No3, an exploration of emotional, musical and intellectual complexity that became simply transcendent through the skill and vision of violinists Minn Majoe and Haru Ushigusa, violist Martin Wray and cellist Kirsten Jenson. Glorious! If only politicians had such visionary powers…


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