Tim Homfray attends London’s Wigmore Hall on 19 January 2024 for the performance of Mozart and Berg 


Fine interplay from the Chaos Quartet. Photo: Wigmore Hall Trust 2024



The opening of Mozart’s B flat major Quartet K589 was gentle and smooth in this account by the Chaos Quartet, with cellist Bas Jongen playing his solo with attractive nonchalance. The development was full-blooded, with nimble playing from leader Susanne Schäffer. The Larghetto flowed gracefully, with more nicely shaped melodies from Jongen (this was written for King Wilhelm II of Prussia, himself an enthusiastic cellist) and some neat little dialogues between the musicians. The inner parts provided the Menuetto with energy, and brought palpable enjoyment to the dancing opening of the Trio. After its clipped, skipping start, the finale became smooth and creamy, with some moments of mystery along the way.

Berg’s Lyric Suite came as something of a musical wrench, but had similar beauty of tone, vitality and textural clarity. The first movement was full of incidental details, and the second had a tinge of melancholy, with delicate playing and time seemingly suspended. There was firm direction through the spectral busyness of the Allegro misterioso, and the fourth movement was appassionato indeed until the magical, quiet lines at its centre. The Presto delirando had violent, disjointed intensity, with some fierce bowing before the tragic, vibrato-laden soliloquies of the final Largo desolato.