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The Badke String Quartet
The Badke String Quartet

Once again St. Paul’s Church was the venue for another stirring Impromptu Classical Concerts presentation. UK-based musicians The Badke String Quartet performed selections by iconic Romantic composers Franz Joseph Haydn and Franz Schubert as well as contemporary composer Ian Wilson. The Quartet – Charlotte Scott, violin; Emma Parker, violin; Jon Thorne, viola; and Nathaniel Boyd; cello – brought their full sound and precise technique to Haydn’s four movement “Quartet, Op 76 No 5”. Key West winter resident and sometime pianist Bruce Casady was in attendance. His comments: “The first violinist (Charlotte Scott) displayed a strong tone on her Stradivarius. She swooped in and swooped out, always with perfect tone. And the Church acoustics were perfect.”

Viola-player Jon Thorne introduced the second piece in the set, Belfast-born composer Ian Wilson’s “Quartet No 1 Winter’s Edge”. The title, Mr. Thorne explained, is a metaphor for “the end of life, although there is ultimately redemption”. Additionally, “the piece is many-coloured”. Indeed, “Winter’s Edge” as performed by the Badke String Quartet presented as a haunting lamentation, a keening as it were, and is ideally suited to the ensemble’s brilliant talents. Late in the piece a sensitively executed downward glissando, evoking the ebbing of the life force, dramatically foretells the conclusion of the piece and thus life itself.

The selection featured in the second half of the program was written during a dark period in Schubert’s life. “Quartet in A D804 ‘Rosemunde’ ” was composed as “incidental music” to accompany the play of the same name written by Helmina von Chezy. Schubert, who tragically died at the age of 31, wrote the piece in a despondent state. In ill health and impoverished, the composer, according to Mr. Thorne, “longed for death”. The piece’s subdued tone reflects Schubert’s mental state. And yet “Rosemunde” also contains lighter, almost soaring passages suggesting Schubert was able to shake, at least for brief interludes, the depression which defined his life. The Badke String Quartet showcased both their individual and collective virtuosity in their expressive rendering of the Schubert.

Impromptu Classical Concerts Board President Lillian Van Hest succinctly sums up the concert: “I really felt the Badke String Quartet was of ‘one heart and soul’. Amazing, four people sharing the same emotions.

This is a true string quartet.” Impromptu Classical Concerts final concert of the season will feature the exciting Axiom Brass Quintet on March 13.

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