Review: Sacconi String Quartet ***

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The Venue, Leeds

Haydn is at his most inventive in his Op. 54 No. 2 String Quartet.

Its 20th century-sounding trio and its finale built to deceive the ear – is it an adagio with a presto appendage, or the other way round, or what? – are particularly original, witty and profound.

The Sacconi Quartet’s fragile tone in The Venue’s difficult acoustic was sufficient to delineate the work’s many layers of musical and philosophical fascination – although first violinist Ben Hancox declined Haydn’s invitation to let his second movement gipsy figurations lag behind the chords.

Then came an enjoyable display of the string quartet form as middle-of-the-road entertainment. Out of the vast and intriguing available repertoire we were given two of the most hackneyed examples – Borodin’s Second and Dvorak’s American Quartets. The Borodin is the source for two of the cheesiest numbers in Kismet, but should Leeds be so corny even on Valentine’s day?

Huddersfield Music Society had a full house a day earlier with the Prazak Quartet’s robustly passionate Martinu 6th Quartet, for example, and the Sacconis have Bartok’s Third in their repertoire elsewhere this month.

In the event, they avoided smothering us in schmaltz and played both works slight, light and straightforward.