Staying on the Fringe, local band the Astrid Quartet, based in Glasgow, undertook an ambitious quintet series in Greyfriars Kirk, with cello, clarinet, double bass and piano (respectively) joining them in Schubert, Brahms, Dvorák and Elgar. Most intriguing, though, was the 14 August concert, when the quartet was joined by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra’s charismatic principal trombonist Dávur Juul Magnussen in two new pieces by Glasgow-based composers, for the unlikely but – as it turned out – entirely convincing combination of trombone and string quartet.
Richard Greer’s moving Run Away melded the quintet’s contrasting sounds beautifully, its rippling textures and fragile, otherwordly sounds playing to Magnussen and the quartet players’ natural sense of drama. There was remarkable ensemble in the piece’s swelling chords, and a sure sense of pacing in its gradually darkening harmonies –and the piece’s desolate conclusion, delivered with admirable restraint, was unforgettable.
Claire McCue’s After the Before had more rhythmic bite and urgency, with Magnussen supplying some intensely characterful playing in the final movement’s assertive melodies, and the Astrid players tackling the composer’s demanding writing with poise and sincerity.
It was only a short concert, but it was an unexpected delight, and a festival highlight.