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Review: Lean and clean sounds from Kiwi quartet

Musica Viva Tasmania, New Zealand String Quartet, Hobart Town Hall, 30 November 2016 

Peter Donnelly    /    The Mercury, Hobart

Beethoven’s “String Quartet in B flat major, Op 18 No 6 (1801)” revealed a quartet sound at once lithe and clean textured with excellent internal balances. The adagio 2nd movement was elegantly paced and that astonishing harmonically advanced ‘La Malinconia’ introduction to the finale led to an energized, though never forced prestissimo conclusion. Janacek’s  “Quartet No 1 ‘Kreutzer Sonata’ (1923)” provided the fullest contrast imaginable. This composer’s sound world is among the most original and individual in music. Here the players – Helene Pohl, Monique Lapins (violins), Gillian Ansell (viola), Rolf Gjelsten (cello) – vividly conveyed the unique intensity and range of colour in this programmatically inspired music. Grieg’s only surviving completed string quartet, “No 1 in G minor, Op 27 (1877-78)”, is a muscular, full textured work incorporating folk influences and original harmonic touches. The New Zealand Quartet revelled in the scale and power of the piece, skillfully exploiting the resonant Town Hall acoustic to achieve a rich, full sound while giving ample attention to the quieter, refined moments.

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