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08 March 2012

Australian String Quartet

Tonight I attended the first concert for 2012 of the Australian String Quartet as part of their national tour. What an evening of pleasures.
Towards Light
Peter Sculthorpe, String Quartet No 11
Dvořák, String Quartet No 10 in E flat major, Op 51
Shostakovich, Piano and String Quintet in G Minor Op 57
With guest pianist Daniel de Borah
Behind the scenes of the new line up.

The first piece Jabiru Dreaming by Australian Peter Sculthorpe was composed as a gift from Australia to France on the bicentenary of the Revolution and premiered in Paris. It drew on indigenous melodies transcribed by a French expedition in 1802. Sculthorpe creates the true ingrained sound of Australia that is as unique as the art of Sidney Nolan or the ancient dirt and the individual animals of this land. The Dvorak was wonderful and to me the Dumka (2nd movement) or folk music expressed the same sounds as the Dvorak Dumky Trio which is a favourite piece I have loved for decades. What was most spectacular for me for the evening was the pure evocative and meditative sound Kristian Winther drew from his violin in the Intermezzo of the Schostakovich (Piano) Quintet in G Minor Op 57. One could hardly breath in the extended passages of perfection. In fact I heard Kristian gulp a huge breath at one stage as he and we had been transfixed by the long single note he held with his steady bow. The exciting and profoundly dramatic Scherzo (3rd part) was encored at the end after a rousing reception and this time they accelerated the pace to bring the evening to a piano crashing, string ripping, very showy finale. 
The Blues movement from Ravel's "Violin Sonata No 2."with new boy Kristian Winther back in 2008 when he was 24, way before he joined the Australian String Quartet. This young man is on a trajectory to great fame. He has magnetic stage presence, is beautiful to look at, moves with interesting grace and plays with gripping talent. Some did note that he is not wholly successful as an ensemble player, but I did not see this. Perhaps it is because he looks like a star.
Here you can listen to the plaintive Intermezzo performed at the Lugano Festival 2006.

Web Site for The Australian String Quartet - http://www.asq.com.au/

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