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Review: Spellbinding performance by quartet

Updated: Jul 1, 2020

A large audience was kept spellbound and in awe by the extraordinary skill and adaptability of leading touring chamber ensemble The New Zealand String Quartet.

Performing in Dunedin Public Art Gallery foyer, Helene Pohl (first violin), Monique Lapins (second violin), Gillian Ansell (viola), and Rolf Gjelsten (cello), Presented a fantastically broad-ranging programme - from early Mozart to a brand-new work by Chinese composer Gao Ping.

Combining vast experience with a refreshingly nimble, imaginative approach, The New Zealand String Quartet was in brilliant form throughout this special concert.

The performance opened with the first two movements of Mozart's String Quartet No. 1 in G Major, written when the composer was just 14 and now believed to have been completed by his father.

Deftly played by the quartet, the work was light, quick and beautifully melodic.

Gao Ping’s recently-completely Prayer Songs – Four Pieces for String Quartet, written at the invitation of the NZ String Quartet, was an entirely different piece, with sliding notes from each players joining and separating to create a chant-like feeling.

Although without specific melody, this strangely wonderful work created a sense of harmony and peace.

There was little peace to be had in Leos Janacek's tense, often atonal String quartet No 1 “Kreutzer Sonata” - based on a novella by Tolstoy, which was in turn inspired by Beethoven.

Filled with spite and despair, along with achingly beautiful moments, this extraordinary work tells the story of a relationship-gone-wrong, ending in murder.

The concert concluded with Anton Dvorak’s lyrical and expressive String Quartet No 11 in C Major, filled with dance rhythms and glorious harmonies.

And brought back by sustained applause, the quartet showed a lighter side to Janacek with a brief, but gorgeous unpublished piece.

A musical feast indeed.

New Zealand String Quartet

National Tour 2019

Dunedin Public Art Gallery – Thursday, July 11

Review by Brenda Harwood

The original review can be found here on page 27. 

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