REVIEW: Gildas Quartet with Joanna MacGregor @ Brighton Dome, 22/11/2020

The Gildas Quartet as well as Joanna MacGregor CBE performed live this past Sunday in Brighton Dome’s magnificent Concert Hall. This is the first live performance that Brighton Dome has broadcast from its Concert Hall since the beginning of lockdown. Due to the current circumstances in lockdown the concert couldn’t run as it usually would, meaning it was instead held over livestream.

The performance included Schubert Quartettsatz in C minor D703, Haydn Quartet in G major Op.76 no.1, Shostakovich Piano Quintet in G minor Op.57. Which in all honesty doesn’t mean much to me. I am not a typical classical music fan or listener, mainly because I haven’t ever had the chance to attend a concert such as this. Both lockdowns in fact have given me the opportunity to experience a wider range of music, which is never a bad thing. I suppose you could say in many ways prior to this I was fairly ignorant to the world of classical music.

However, I was pleasantly surprised. The concert pieces varied from being much more solemn and mellow to others that were energetic and fast paced. I found it interesting how much of the time the Quartet themselves reflected the music they were playing. Where in the faster paced pieces they used fast jabbing motions and on the slower pieces, wider and longer movements, the violins especially. This was a quality I thought was more typical to other genres of music, so it was interesting to see this. There was a good dynamic also between the Gildas Quartet and Joanna MacGregor CBE, who joined around the half way point of the concert to accompany them on piano. The introduction of the piano was a nice shift and changed the dynamic up. Joanna took the lead on some pieces whilst remaining in the background on others, in which the flow was seamless.

I was a little worried to begin with as the wide-shot that the livestream began on felt like it would get old quite quickly. Luckily there were a range of shots that varied to show closer perspectives of the Quartet playing giving the performance an almost cinematic quality that fitted well with the music itself. I imagine for classical music enthusiasts this was also an interesting way to view the music as you could see closer up the different components working to make the complete sound. The sound and picture quality remained consistent throughout, which was certainly a worry of my own as it seemed perfectly plausible that a livestream such as this could suddenly go down mid-way.

One feature I think could be a possible benefit to future events like this (if more lockdowns are to happen), would be some form of live or interactive chat, so there could be responses live to what is happening. This isn’t necessarily something you’d be able to do in a regular concert, but then again this wasn’t a regular concert. A feature such as this could potentially be optional for those who are there just for the music.

Overall, this concert was a great example of the possibilities that are still open despite lockdown and the many obstacles that venues and artists are against due to social distancing rules.

You’re still able to watch the Gildas Quartet and Joanna MacGregor performance! Although not live, it’s still worth the watch, HERE. (Available until 22/12/2020)

Check out more on Music from The Verse, HERE.

Adam Zak Hawley

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