Edward Bhesania hears the performance of Weinberg and Lutosławski at London’s Wigmore Hall on 19 February 2024 


Silesian Quartet. Photo: Magdalena Jodlowska/MAYO

Founded more than 35 years ago, the Silesian Quartet continued its promotion of music from its Polish homeland in this Wigmore Hall recital.

Mieczysław Weinberg was born in newly independent Poland in 1919. The bleak opening movement of his 1957 String Quartet (the seventh of 17) – with a long-arching but spare melody – was movingly played by first violinist Szymon Krzeszowiec, combining vulnerability (using sparing vibrato) with a fetching sweetness of tone. In the ‘dance of death’ second movement, the supporting pizzicato rhythm was precise but with a beguiling soft edge; and in the middle section of the finale the Silesian drew great tension from textural complexity and harmonic dissonance.

Lutosławski’s 1964 String Quartet opened (again by Krzeszowiec) with tightly shaped short gestures and dynamic markings scrupulously observed. There was concentrated focus throughout, not least in the quick-cut contrasts of material and texture.

Witold Maliszewski moved from Ukraine (then part of the Russian Empire) to Poland in 1921. For his 1904 String Quintet the Silesian was joined by cellist Mats Lidström. The idiom is much more conservative, but the five players allowed its Romantic vein to bloom and offered a spirited scherzo. Lidström fitted in seamlessly, matching his fellow players’ individual flair, as well as blending in with them.