Divertimento String Quartet is highly acclaimed for their performances and have a large following for their regular concerts. They perform three different programmes a year, with a wide range of works from Haydn and Mozart to Walton and Shostakovich. The Quartet also gives concerts with a mixture of styles from classical to light classics.
You can listen to the Quartet on Divertimento String Quartet Repertoire page.
Mary Eade – Violin
Lindsay Braga – Violin
Andrew Gillett – Viola
Vicky Evans – Cello
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Another treat of an evening from the Divertimento String Quartet – the programming of the concerts are always wonderfully unexpected, revealing fascinating corners of the repertoire that never normally seem to get a hearing.
This time we went from seriously youthful (Schubert aged 15) to the opposite (Saint-Saëns aged 84), with a mature Shostakovich who clearly felt he had seen too much and lived too long to end the concert. The warmly accessible introductions as usual gave us a stimulating insight into the works to be performed – one of the real strengths of these concerts in my opinion.
The Schubert, although youthful, already showed considerable maturity of technique and approach, and many signs of things to come – and was played with obvious pleasure and conviction. The lyrical slow movement gave Mary the chance to soar, and the inner voices provided warm support – and the menuetto already sounded like a scherzo, with its folk dance roots showing, and played with spirit and élan. Throughout, Schubert had already grasped how to use the four different voices to provide varied and interesting textures, and was already tuneful and dramatically inventive.
The Saint-Saëns, by contrast, was written presumably in the later stages of, or just after the end of the First World War, and had unsurprisingly darker undertones. But it was fascinatingly inventive, and the lusciously Late Romantic Adagio gave Mary the chance to dazzle us, especially in the concerto-like cadenza, with wonderfully warm and atmospheric lower voices. And the almost-fugal finale provided an unexpected and rather thrilling ending. Certainly deserving to be heard.
But the Shostakovich – that was worth the entrance money alone! I don’t think I’ve ever heard the Quartet sound so tremendous. Mary’s useful introduction took us into Shostakovich’s sound world as well as his mental and emotional state, and then we were on a continuous 20-minute journey played with total, ferociously emotional commitment. The ensemble was superb – and it must’ve been extraordinarily difficult to pull off – especially in the wild klezmer-like Allegro molto. Vicky’s high ‘cello ‘love song’ was intensely moving and emotionally ‘true’, and the final two Largos took us all to a very deep and dark place – but, perhaps counter-intuitively, Shostakovich was able to make us feel that in the greatest personal darkness, humankind can not only endure, but be creative and universal. It was breath-taking (more, please!).Gay Jones
We thank you and the other members of the quartet for another lovely concert. We thoroughly enjoyed the Schubert and the Saint-Saens, but the Shostakovich was superb! Something strange seemed to happen and it was as though you were playing as one. I allowed the sound to wash through and round me and came away feeling cleansed and renewed. (Sounds rather far-fetched, but true!). Those around me felt deeply moved by it too, and I’m sure you all felt that you had visited another place as the music poured from your instruments.Ruth Oatey
‘If anyone has a friend who might be interested in chamber music but feels a bit intimidated by it, Divertimento String Quartet is the ideal group to take them to; they’ll hook them in gently and with the utmost charm and open up a whole new world of delight!’
‘The art of string quartet playing is complex, and Divertimento understand the complexities and make them effortless. The audience is drawn in, not only by the playing of the musicians, but also by their introductions to the pieces – always informative about the music and also insightful about the very human aspects of bringing it off the page and into sound. Divertimento do more than give concerts. They remind all who hear them play that the world is a beautiful place and that humanity is capable of marvelous things.’
‘What a wonderfully absorbing evening Divertimento Quartet provided last night, doing what you do so well – giving performances of such polished professionalism combined with a real sense of intimacy and pleasure, with and for friends. Your pleasure and enjoyment in playing communicates immediately with your audience – one of the great pleasures of the evening was seeing your teamwork, the attentive listening to each other, and the balance of voices, the way individual instruments could shine out where necessary and blend, support and work together throughout.’Comments from recent concert
I just wanted to reiterate my appreciation for the performance of the Shostakovich on Sunday which was one of the most profoundly moving musical experiences I can recall. The work and the emotion the four of you put into it was quite extraordinary. Congratulations.Raymond Hayes
For those who braved the rain and wind to hear the Divertimento string quartet at Kingsbridge Methodist Church on Sunday 11/2/18, the reward was an afternoon of being transported to a very special place.
Boccherini, genteel, refined and the perfect opening piece was followed by the complex and at times, wild Kodaly. It is in pieces like this that the four individuals who make up the string quartet shine with their unique voice, and yet know the work and each other so well they are able to blend and create a single sound. The art of string quartet playing is complex, and Divertimento understand the complexities and make them effortless. The audience is drawn in, not only by the playing of the musicians, but also by their introductions to the pieces – always informative about the music, and also insightful about the very human aspects of bringing it off the page and into sound.
After an interval of tea and homemade cake, we returned for Verdi and Tchaikovsky – both full of sonority, complex rhythms, beautiful melody lines and a sense of being uplifted and taken to a place far away from the everyday.
Divertimento do more than give concerts. They remind all who hear them play that the world is a beautiful place and that humanity is capable of marvellous thingsNicola Smith
Quite simply it was great!Raymond Hayes
We have no difficulty in singing the praises of the Divertimento String Quartet! Indeed, the Topsham Chamber Music Society was established in 2014 with the express purpose of allowing concert-goers in East Devon the chance to enjoy the very special talents of these four superb musicians. If you are looking for a professional ensemble who will play tenderly, strongly, wittily, dramatically or mellifluously as occasion demands, look no further. Their repertoire is extensive and they are always interested in working on new pieces. As individuals, the members of the quartet relate very well to our audiences, creating a friendly atmosphere and bringing the pieces in their programme to life with excellent explanatory introductions.The Topsham Chamber Music Society
What a wonderfully absorbing evening Divertimento Quartet provided last night, doing what they do so well – giving performances of such polished professionalism combined with a real sense of intimacy and pleasure, with and for friends. Their pleasure and enjoyment in playing communicates immediately with their audience – one of the great pleasures of the evening was seeing their teamwork, the attentive listening to each other, and the balance of voices, the way individual instruments could shine out where necessary and blend, support and work together throughout.
It was a fascinating programme – as usual the quartet chose unfamiliar corners of the repertoire to introduce us to. The opening Boccherini (Quartet in G Minor, Op 33 No 5) gave us elegant classical charm, and astonishing inventiveness, given that (we were told) he wrote at least a hundred string quartets ( and much else besides). The Kodaly Quartet No 2 had a thoroughly informative and entertaining introduction with demonstrations of themes and styles to watch out for, and illustrations of the composer’s passionate love of the folk music of his native Hungary. It was played with warmth and infectious panache, giving full rein to its melodic charm as well its folk-based idiom, and ending with a full-on whirlwind dance that never felt rushed or untidy.
The (very beautiful) arrangement of the Ave Maria sung by the doomed Desdemona in Verdi’s ‘Otello’ was a small gem. Played raptly, with a calm intensity and warmth, it culminated with the upper strings floating stratospherically into silence – unforgettable. You could hear the audience’s collective out-take of breath at the end.
And the final Tchaikovsky Quartet No. 1 Op. 11 was another generally unfamiliar piece (apart from the well-known slow movement – which I for one had no idea came from Tchaikovsky’s chamber music,). It was also introduced very entertainingly and with some intriguing background information. The whole piece was played with total commitment – you could again hear the audible audience reaction of pleasure at the end of the almost symphonic first movement. The gorgeous Andante Cantabile was played with full Russian warmth but without sentimentality – the lyrical first violin theme given beautifully blended support by the lower strings. I was left wondering why on earth it’s not heard in the repertoire more often.
And then we were given an upbeat arrangement of a folk song from Bosnia-Herzegovina as an encore, to send us out smiling.
If anyone has a friend who might be interested in chamber music but feels a bit intimidated by it, Divertimento is the ideal group to take them to; they’ll hook them in gently and with the utmost charm, and open up a whole new world of delight!Gay Jones
Thank you for providing such a varied programme. We liked the two Shostakovich pieces very much – quite a find, as one so often hears so much angst in his work. Good fun! Nice to hear the Wolf as well after a gap of many years. My favourite was definitely the Brahms which I thought you played beautifully: the quartet seemed to merge to form one organism, and there was one passage for the cello which was truly beautiful and moving.Ruth Oatey
Mendelssohn’s String Octet is a most alluring, tuneful work – and a phenomenal achievement from a teenage composer. But it takes imagination to devise a whole programme using the eight strings it requires. The Divertimento and Eberle Quartets found an ingenious solution: first, Telemann’s Viola Concerto, contrasting paired upper strings with the soloist, and a versatile cellist taking on keyboard continuo. St. Margaret’s Church in Topsham has a warm but absorbent acoustic, so Andrew Gillett chose a restrained and thoughtful approach. There was plenty of fire in the stunning last movement though, with its chains of stirring off-beats.
Violist then took over keyboard, for Bach’s two-violin concerto, BWV 1043 – the outer movements at a breathtakingly courageous pace, yet never losing a secure sense of ‘two-in-a-bar’ – a thrilling experience. The gloriously lyrical slow movement had a wonderful timeless quality as it was gently woven between the matched yet distinctively-voiced violin soloists.
The Mendelssohn Octet is a tremendous challenge. With eight strings at his disposal, Mendelssohn writes dense and complex textures. This splendid performance was striking for its clarity, its balance, and the control of the music taken to the very edge. It delighted a packed Sunday afternoon audience.George Pratt
What an experience we had on Saturday night at Sharpham House. And what a challenging programme. The sound was so spectacular I nearly fell off my chair with the opening notes of the Mozart. We had an opportunity to experience the intimacy of sound in a chamber music setting and it was overwhelmingly wonderful. I was completely overawed at the dexterity and musicianship of the members of the quartet, especially in the Greig.Dorothy West