Onslow Concert

The Onslow quartet, a young, vibrant group of musicians who started playing together in 2013 at Reid Hall in Paris, perform Brahms, Haydn and Onslow in a concert charged with emotion.

The concert held on 23 March at Reid Hall was a double revelation for most us.

The first revelation was that of a composer. A Frenchman, though you wouldn’t guess so from his name, George Onslow was the son of a British aristocrat living in Clermont-Ferrand towards the end of the 18th century. Onslow was born in this city in central France in 1784 and buried there in 1853. He was hugely successful in the first half of the 19th century, both in France and abroad, to the extent that he was known as the “French Beethoven”. We witnessed the renaissance of this composer, forgotten for more than a century, as we listened to one of his 36 pieces for string quartet.

The second revelation was that of a young French string quartet, formed just five years ago. The Onslow quartet granted us the privilege of inviting us to witness their fine-tuning during the final pre-concert rehearsal before the public arrived. Half an hour later, the musicians were out of their jeans and colourful polo shirts and into the standard black concert dress.

The programme included Haydn, “the father of the string quartet”, Onslow, of course, and Brahms, who took the concert to the height of Romanticism in the 19th century. Three superb pieces, masterfully performed.

All this in a charming hall reminiscent of the intimacy of the Parisian musical salons, where the proximity to the musicians makes for an exceptional listening experience.

By Annie Lionnet