The concert discussed in Lynne Walker's recent review (The Lindsays, Crucible Theatre, Sheffield, August 4) for The Independent is monumental. The performers, the string quartet known as The Lindsays, were giving their last concert together, ever.
"The difficult decision," wrote Beethoven at the head of the last movement of his final quartet, in F major, and that was surely Peter Cropper's feeling when he decided to disband the Lindsay String Quartet. "Must it be?," Beethoven continued against the last movement's introduction, responding both musically and in words, "It must be!"Just in their concerts in the Crucible Studio, the Lindsays "have given 903 performances of 327 quartets by 96 composers," not to mention their history of recording and performing elsewhere. Another review of the farewell concert (Last call for top string quartet, August 6) by Tom Service for The Guardian tells briefly how the breakup came about:
These question-and-answer phrases were emblazoned on the merchandise at the Lindsays' final weekend of concerts, which involved close musical friends as well as players from three generations of the Lindsays' immediate families. Apart from the engaging music-making, the personalities and quirkiness of the quartet have attracted a loyal following to their concerts over 30 years in Sheffield. There was scarcely room for all who turned out to hear their last notes.
What would you play for your last concert as a string quartet? The Lindsays chose a quartet by Haydn (in D major, not sure which one), Bartók's second quartet, and Beethoven's final string quartet, Op. 135 (that last one was also the piece that the Chilingirian Quartet chose to play for Stanley Sadie as he spent his last moments on earth). Nice choices.
[First violinist Peter] Cropper decided to disband three years ago and the other players had to adjust to the shock. He said: "When I made this decision I had no idea what I was going to do afterwards. But I think we have made the most of it - we have played our socks off in just about every concert this season." [Violist Robin] Ireland said: "We determined to give this music every ounce of our commitment and energy in a way you can't do if you don't have an end in sight." Cropper plans to focus on Beethoven's violin sonatas, and he will still be running Music in the Round in Sheffield, the chamber music festival he set up 21 years ago, in which the Lindsays' performances were fixtures.
Also on Ionarts:
Jens F. Laurson, Dip Your Ears, No. 20 (November 29, 2004), review of a recording by the Lindsays, playing the late Schubert string quartets and the string quintet