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Laters Lindsays!

Published on July 1st 2005.

Being renowned in my teens for being a bit of a classical music buff, blasting Pavarotti from my stereo in my 10 year VW Jetta on hot summer days in Whitley Bay with the windows down, plus the fact I used to be a violinist, oh and the fact that my name is Lindsay, I was the obvious choice for reviewing “The Lindsays Say Farewell to Manchester” concert at the Bridgewater Hall.

Having been to Bridgewater Hall on a couple of occasions for various business seminars, I have to say I was amazed by the pure size of the actual concert hall, this place is beautiful and no matter where you are seated in the room you have a clear vision of the performers and the acoustics are amazing.

Arriving just in time, the boyfriend and I, dashed in to find that our seats were firmly in the middle of the stalls with at least 12 people sitting either side, we decided not to make a fuss by disrupting everyone and so we sat at the back due to our extreme lack of time keeping.

A very well dressed older gentleman approached the stage to announce the evening’s performance, and due to a minor hick up with the mike had to shout their introduction to the stage, which I may say he carried off superbly and also gave the audience a bit of a laugh.

The Lindsays are a String Quartet founded by Peter Cropper and Bernard George-Smith and were established over 40 years ago while they were still students at London’s Royal Academy of Music. They gave their first professional concert in 1967, (I wasn’t even a twinkle) at Keele University where they became the fabulously named status of ‘quartet-in-residence’ and took their name from Lord Lindsay, the University’s Vice President. They have managed to acquire the reputation as the finest string quartet in the UK - once they started playing I could see why.

Playing the first of three Beethoven quartets, the first being String Quartet in B flat Major, Op.18 No.6 (1800), the beauty of the music was somewhat overwhelming helped of course by the sheer genius of the acoustics in the place.

Reading the programme, boyfriend Sam discovered that they were in fact playing a remarkable set of instruments: Peter Cropper on a Stradivarius from the Golden Period, Robin Ireland an Amati viola c.1630, while Ronald Birks and Bernard Gregory-Smith had been loaned the Campo Selice Stradivarius of 1694 and a Ruggierei cello of the same year.

For those of you not in the know, the significance of a Stradivarius is that these were made by Antonio Stradivarius who was a famous Cremones violin maker and to have the opportunity to hear such an ancient instrument played to such perfection is rather a special night out, hence a very giddy boyfriend who informed me that strings were his favourite instrument, I honestly thought it was the spoons but you learn something new everyday.

Taking us through the second two String Quartets, String Quartet in E minor, Op.59 No.2, ‘Razumovsky” (1806) and the final string quarter String Quartet n F Major, Op.135 (1826), for which Beethoven is famous for writing on the manuscript the words: “Must it be?” across the opening first movement and at the end of the movement he wrote: “It must be!”

This was the Lindsays’ final night ‘ever’ in Manchester hence the title of their tour and what a final night: the music was amazing bar Peter Cropper’s squeaky chair which he had to change after the first String Quartet again setting the audience into fits of laughter, a cheeky quartet who have been described as vigorous, generous and adventurous in their approach to live concerts, hence the standing ovation they received at the end.

All in all an amazing night even though Sam informed me on the way home that he had thoughly enjoyed the concert although he disliked Beethoven as he was far to intellectual a composer and was a deaf b*****d, but he thought the Lindsays were great and the opportunity to hear a Stradivarius was a once in a life time opportunity. I am sure the Lindsays will be sorely missed in the UK and in America where they also have a number of farewell tours planned before leaving our concert halls for ever at the end of this year.

Lindsay Cessford

The Bridgewater Hall
Lower Mosley Street
Manchester M2 3WS
Tel 0161 950 0000


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