Reviews

  • Gramophone Critics' Choice

    11 December 2017

    Of all the discs I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing, the recent chamber/vocal disc of Dove’s music stands out head and shoulders above the rest. It is a recording that I frequently return to. Mark Padmore ‘owns' In Damscus; as no one else could, while Charles Owen and the Sacconi Quartet show Dove’s lighter touch in the effervescent Piano Quintet. A joyous release.

    MALCOLM RILEY, Gramophone, Dec 2017

  • BBC Music Magazine

    17 October 2017

    Both Padmore and the Sacconi Quartet, who have a major expressive role as accompanists, are at their finest in ‘Soon, we will be free’, the serene, lyrical heart of [In Damascus]…pianist Charles Owen joins the Sacconis for the Piano Quintet, his crisp, incisive playing making a particular impression in the rhythmically buoyant outer movements

    BBC Music Magazine, October 2017

  • Gramophone Recording of the Month

    1 August 2017

    Seldom does a mixed vocal and chamber programme such as this hang together so perfectly...[In Damascus] was tailor-made for Mark Padmore, who summons up every iota of his immense interpretative powers to steer us through this reflective testament. This important release cannot be recommended too highly.

    MALCOLM RILEY, Gramophone Recording of the Month, August 2017

  • The Guardian

    17 June 2017

    The beauty of the piece, for tenor and string quartet, is its restraint. It doesn’t sensationalise, get maudlin, moralise or politicise. The words are direct and the music respects that. The performance does, too: clear, focused playing from the Sacconi Quartet and lucid, unswerving narrative from tenor Mark Padmore. The rest of the disc is lighter but always with that trademark Dove economy: the Sacconis sound relaxed and bubbly in the 2001 quartet Out of Time and pianist Charles Owen joins for the Piano Quintet, intense and light-filled.

    KATE MOLLESON, The Guardian, June 2017

  • The Scotsman

    1 November 2016

    Music review: Sound Festival, Aberdeen

    ...All change, though, for Saturday’s lunchtime concert from the UK-based Sacconi Quartet and harpist Ruth Wall (*****), which included the world premiere of a sound-commissioned, bracingly energetic new work from UK post-minimalist Graham Fitkin. Recur for string quartet and harp was a gem of a piece, sparkling with plucked textures, its four-note earworm of a tune cast in endlessly inventive new contexts, funky and foot-tapping yet also full of piquant emotion, and it got a crisp, bright, thoroughly assured premiere performance.

    DAVID KETTLE, The Scotsman, November 2016

  • The Observer

    4 September 2016

    String quartets stand out for different reasons, from quality of sound (the Takács or, in the past, the Alban Berg or Amadeus) to adventurous repertoire (Kronos or Arditti or JACK) to versatility, among whom the Sacconi Quartet, currently celebrating their 15th anniversary this year, are front-runners. They have a festival, work with a wide range of musicians and actors and have their own label. They are also very good. The works here, typically, are carefully matched: Mendelssohn wrote his mighty A minor quartet Op 13 in response to Beethoven’s in A minor, Op 132. The playing is fresh and pliable, each work illuminating the other. Both have been widely recorded, but not together. Assuming you’re not a completist, that’s reason enough to snap up this disc.

    Fiona Maddocks, The Observer, September 2016

  • The Guardian

    14 July 2016

    Jonathan Dove’s new work, which received its first London performance in this 15th anniversary concert by the Sacconi Quartet, is an unusual and timely one. Scored for tenor and string quartet, it sets English translations by Anne-Marie McManus of text from the Syrian poet Ali Safar’s A Black Cloud in a Leaden White Sky, or Death by Stabs of Sorrow.

    Safar and McManus have distilled elements of the tragic Syrian experience into words that are simple, direct and without any hint of rhetoric or sensation. Dove has succeeded in setting them to music that allows their plainness and understatement to register to maximum effect while maintaining a striking character of its own.

    The string writing moves back and forth between painful intensity and frozen introspection, with many subtle shades in between. The tenor line – here presented by Mark Padmore with immaculate artistry, and a technique so finely honed that one scarcely noticed it – amplifies the eloquent candour of the originals.

    The overall impact of the work and its performance was profound, an unforgettable example of the power of art to convey something terrible through an expression that is paradoxically in itself beautiful.

    Dove’s piece took up the entire second half. The Sacconis led up to it with an account of Mozart’s Hoffmeister Quartet in which their fine balance and near flawless ensemble provided the bedrock for a graceful yet rhythmically vital interpretation; and a performance of Mendelssohn’s great F minor Quartet whose fury and ferocity set the scene for what was to come.

    George Hall, The Guardian, July 2016

Both Padmore and the Sacconi Quartet, who have a major expressive role as accompanists, are at their finest in ‘Soon, we will be free’, the serene, lyrical heart of 'In Damascus'Presto Recordings of the Year: Finalist 2017
The festival sensation, the young Sacconi Quartet completely bowled over a packed audience. The chemistry between these four young players is tangible and magical.The Scotsman
A beautiful blend of sound ... highly engaging.The Times
An exceptional ensemble ... a unanimous sense of musical breath and a meticulous attention to detail.Musical Opinion
A quartet of genuine substance.The Daily Telegraph
Great power and sweetness ... intimate closeness.The Spectator
Enviable technical prowess.The Strad
The finest I have ever heardEdward Clark, British Sibelius Society
A triumphant performanceThe Observer