Reviewed by George Fleeton © 2013
A second visit* to Portaferry Proms (May 18) underlined how small music miracles can be conjured up from constrained resources underwritten by excellent volunteer management.
Organised by the Friends of Portaferry Presbyterian Church, on their 170 year old premises, the church is a neo-classical Greek temple with a six column portico at each end – an unexpected but fascinating venue for light classical music.
So far the honorary board has raised £300k and it will take a lot more, and a year’s restoration work, to complete essential major repairs.
The world famous Endellion String Quartet played a fairly serious programme of Haydn, Janáček and Beethoven, which was exquisite to behold but it took no prisoners.
The Endellion are the natural successors of the unique Amadeus Quartet, which disbanded in 1987 after forty years of music-making.
The four gentlemen of the Endellion – bespectacled, in colourful cummerbunds – have been around since 1979, and their speciality is Beethoven’s string quartets.
They are resident in Cambridge University, when not touring the world.
Three of the four are the originals.
Praised for their perfect poise, intonation, balance and tone, their presence in Portaferry was enthusiastically applauded; each instrumental was singular, having its own individual voice, particularly in the final piece, Beethoven’s immense String Quartet No. 12, Opus 127, from 1825.
They encored with a much lighter piece, a catchy little waltz by Dvořák.
About 25 years ago they had to abandon their concert, at the interval, in Ballymena (because of loud, extraneous dance music next door) – the only occasion on which this has ever happened.
*My first visit was recorded here, on Down News, on September 25, 2012, as Portaferry Proms – A Celebration of the Irish Voice.