Haunting strings remind Sally of Harris reeds

Elias String Quartet play at Kelso Music Society tomorrow night
Elias String Quartet play at Kelso Music Society tomorrow night
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One of the most highly regarded young quartets play at Kelso Music Society tomorrow night.

Elias String Quartet will be playing a new piece by Scottish-based composer Sally Beamish, commissioned this year and premiered by them at the Proms.

The work, her third string quartet, is called Reed Stanzas and refers to a poem composed on the Isle of Harris by Rumi about the different associations of reeds.

Kelso Music Society’s Peter Podmore explained: “She heard Elias’s second violin, Donald Grant, playing Scottish fiddle music at a concert and eventually made the connection between him and the Elias Quartet, who had recently recorded the Britten quartets.

“These echoed her memories of the vast reed beds at Aldeburgh, Britten’s home town, and she was able to compare them with the silence and different feelings of loneliness on Harris.

“The sound of the lapwing and other birds, with the wind over the reeds all came together as inspiration for this wonderful string quartet which opens with Donald playing a Scottish fiddle tune.”

The quartet, an international mix of two French sisters, a Swede and a Scot, will also be playing a quartet by Haydn, and Beethoven’s great B Flat Quartet Opus 130 with its original ending, known as the Grosse Fugue.

This was such a massive work in itself that Beethoven was persuaded to replace it with a gentler finale, but increasingly nowadays the Grosse Fugue is the ending that is played.

Peter added: “The quartet’s visit to Kelso will be enormously welcomed by any regular listener to BBC Radio 3 whose airwaves they have filled regularly over the last year with a series of beautifully-played concerts as the BBC’s specially chosen New Generation artists.”

The concert begins at 7.30pm in Kelso High School. Tickets are priced at £12, with various concessions available. Phone 01668 216550 for more information.