On Friday 6th February, my mum and I went to Norwich Theatre Royal to attend a concert comprising of Webern’s five movements for string quartet Op.5, Haydn’s Symphony no.88 in G and Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No.3 in C minor, Op.27.

Recently, in my GCSE music lessons, we have been studying minimalism and serialism. The use of discordant notes in all of Webern’s five movements reflected these styles. A sense of foreboding and increased tension was created by the shrill crescendos of the string’s arco bowing, climaxing with a sudden twang of pizzicato. The second movement was more of a lamentation – delicate and hesitant. Use of contrast between arco and pizzicato gave a much more dramatic effect in the third movement – the shortest of them all. Returning to a tender and often shrill melody, the fourth movement’s use of soloists gave a subtle hint at the sense of threat contained throughout. The last movement started softly but gradually crescendoed into anti-climatic sections which petered off into nothing at the end.

Webern’s five movements were short, yet held my interest throughout. By having unexpected melodies and sudden changes in tempo and dynamics, I found that I kept waiting for more. The ending of the last movement highlighted this, because as everything faded, I found myself thinking – this can’t be it? I enjoyed this piece because it was different.

Haydn’s Symphony differed greatly from Webern’s string quartet. I could almost imagine it as background music to a period drama. The first movement became energetic and fast-paced. Seeing all the bows moving exactly at the same time was quite amazing, especially in the faster sections. Multiple layers of melody gave the movement interest, especially the way different parts of the orchestra seemed to be speaking to each other – questions and answers. I found the second movement to begin with – interesting, but eventually, slightly boring. I know that such works use repetition a lot, but I found this movement to over-egg the point. Things looked up in the third movement, returning to a statelier feel. The middle section (like ternary form) was a different idea to the first – more delicate. The first idea returned suddenly and with great gusto. Lastly, the fourth movement was jaunty and dignified. The speed at which some of the string parts played was incredible! I loved the way different ideas deviated from the main one and returned to it in such inconspicuous ways.

I liked most of Haydn’s Symphony, except the second movement. It was much more of a typical ‘classical’ piece that many would think of when the term is mentioned.

Despite my enjoyment of the last two pieces, it was Beethoven’s piano concerto that really excited me. As a pianist, it was certainly the highlight of my evening. The curtain rose to reveal a magnificent grand piano in centre-stage; my heart stopped for a moment. The start of the first movement was very dramatic and it took about three minutes for the piano to come in! It was worth the wait though – changing between force and delicacy, the first solo was dramatic yet melancholy. Climactic crescendos of the orchestra intertwined with delicate trills on the piano really captured my attention. I simply loved it! The soft introduction from the piano in the second movement was alluring. A general pattern emerged – piano solo, piano and orchestra, orchestra, then piano solo once more. The combination of the flute with pizzicato from the strings was simple yet elegant. In the last movement, the melody became much livelier. The variation between dynamics and tempo; the forceful and the delicate sections, formed a thrilling piece. It was full of questions and answers. As I watched Imogen Cooper play the agile scalic sections with such finesse, I was intensely jealous and in awe of her skill. Beethoven’s concerto was by far my favourite.

I am so glad that I took part in this programme, as I had a chance to watch and listen to music I otherwise wouldn’t necessarily listen to. I hope that others - if the opportunity is given to them - will take it, even if it is just to experience something different.

Helen Craske, aged 14

Helen attended a performance of the Britten Sinfonia with Imogen Cooper as director and pianist on 6th February 2009.