The Scotsman Sessions #125: The Maxwell Quartet

Welcome to The Scotsman Sessions. With performing arts activity curtailed for the foreseeable future, we are commissioning a series of short video performances from artists all around the country and releasing them on scotsman.com, with introductions from our critics. Here, from a fishing boat perched on top of a hill in Perthshire, the Maxwell Quartet perform Da Full Rigged Ship and Da New Rigged Ship.

Thursday, 15th October 2020, 5:49 pm
Updated Friday, 16th October 2020, 3:40 pm

For solo musicians, Covid-19 restrictions have been enough of a trial. Spare a thought, though, for tight-knit ensembles such as the Scots-based Maxwell Quartet and the impossibilities they’ve faced in rehearsing together, never mind performing.

One way round that has been to utilise the breezy solitude of the Perthshire countryside, and a picturesque Scotsman Sessions film that is a collaboration with an exciting new venue development - Guardswell Farm - where the Quartet intends to base a future series of concerts.

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“We hope to start that next year, all being well,” says violinist George Smith. “I got married there three years ago, and we immediately saw the potential. It’s a beautiful old farmstead with views over the Tay Valley to Perth and Dundee.”

The Maxwell Quartet
The Maxwell Quartet

And a fishing boat perched on top of a hill? “It’s one of Guardswell’s curiosities,” Smith explains. And it certainly plays its part in setting a nautical theme for the jig and reel coupling they’ve chosen to perform, Da Full Rigged Ship and Da New Rigged Ship.

It represents a joyous moment for the string quartet, which also features co-violinist Colin Scobie, violist Elliott Perks and cellist Duncan Strachan. “These are Shetland tunes that we really like, and feature on our newest CD alongside Haydn’s Quartet Op 74, due for imminent release on Linn,” says Smith

Apart from their energising five-star recital in the Edinburgh International Festival’s online chamber music series in August, the Maxwells haven’t properly performed together since their prestigious US Tour in March was suddenly cut short by the global pandemic. “We’d just reached Chicago when we had to make the call and come home.”

But dark clouds often have a silver lining. “Duncan and I both became fathers recently,” says Smith, “so it’s been great being at home with our respective families.”

For more on the Maxwell Quartet, visit https://www.maxwellstringquartet.com/

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