Melrose Music Society set for the visit of this fantastic four

The Fitzwilliam Quartet, set to play in Melrose next month.
The Fitzwilliam Quartet, set to play in Melrose next month.

A string quartet founded more than 50 years ago and much admired by Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovitch, is set to thrill classical music lovers in Melrose next month.

The prestigious Fitzwilliam String Quartet opens the new season for the Melrose Music Society at the town’s Parish Church hall on Saturday, September 7, at 8pm.

The quartet was founded in 1968, and has sustained a reputation second to none.

The programme starts with two Noveletten, Opus 15, by Alexander Glazunov, a Russian Romantic composer and teacher of Shostakovitch. Described as ‘absolute gems’, they are from a collection of five composed in 1886.

This is followed by Delius’s ‘Swallows’, the third movement of a string quartet. Written in 1916, when forced by war to return to England from his beloved France, it is a tone poem in miniature, evoking the countryside outside Paris where he lived.

Next comes Mozart’s String Quartet in D, K. 575, a late work dedicated to the King of Prussia, with its emphasis on pure beauty.

Bach’s three Contruncti from the ‘Art of the Fugue’ follow, and the concert concludes with Beethoven’s String Quartet in F Minor Opus 96 which Mendelssohn declared to be the most ‘characteristic’ piece he ever wrote.

Playing first violin, Lucy Russell has been with the quartet since 1988. Also an orchestral player, she gives solo recitals and masterclasses in violin all over the world.

She is professor of baroque violin at the Royal College of Music.

Marcus Barchum Stevens (second violin) joined the quartet in 2012, having studied music at Cambridge and Guildhall School of Music. He has gained a reputation as a soloist and chamber musician and is principal second violin with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.

Viola player and founder member of the quartet, Alan George, has taught in colleges and universities across the globe. He is also conductor of the Academy of St Olav’s Chamber Orchestra.

Making up the quarter is prize-winning cellist, Sally Pendlebury, who is regularly invited to perform at festivals internationally.

The concert, open to the public, follows the society’s annual supper, which is at 6pm. Tickets, £15, are available at the door, accompanied school-age children go free.