Adelaide Town Hall, Mon 7 Sep.
Abundance is the title given to this performance by the Australian String Quartet, with guest violinists Susie Park and Brendan Joyce, and a fitting title it is for such a generous and masterfully-delivered program featuring Mozart’s String Quartet in D Minor K421, one of a series of world premiere performances of Matthew Hindson’s String Quartet No. 3, Ngeringa, Anton Webern’s Langsamer Satz, and Bedrich Smetana’s String Quartet No 1 in E minor, From My Life.
From the opening notes of the Mozart it was apparent that we were in for a special evening, as the quartet performed as though they’d been playing together for years, and the first of many smiles beamed from cellist Sharon Draper’s face indicating that all was well. Primary violinist Susie Park distinguished herself early on as she would continue to for the rest of the evening, playing expressively without sacrificing the ensemble nature of the work.
Matthew Hindson’s String Quartet No 3 was commissioned to commemorate the opening of the Ngeringa Cultural Centre at Mount Barker, and it turned out to be a spectacular and technically challenging work. The modern and dissonant first movement made exciting use of glissando while the second movement featured many a 16th note triplet run before ceding to a cello solo over syncopated viola and violin. The third movement’s pianissimo opening was exquisite and allowed Steven King’s featured viola solo to shine as its ascending lines floated above the ensemble. The fourth movement picked up at the whisper where the third left off, but quickly crescendoed with percussive sixteenth note runs and sudden drops to pianissimo and back up to forte, and providing a fitting finale to the piece and the first half of the program.
After a short break, the quartet returned with the Webern, and the audience was rapt while Park’s violin and Draper’s cello traded pizzicato lines in the waltz before the legato ensemble harmony of the 4/4 section brought the piece sweetly to its close.
The Smetana opened with a viola solo, before leading to an aggressive violin solo performed by Park. The second movement’s galloping rhythms interspersed with its repeated chords and sixteenth note runs led to an exciting finish. The third movement opened with solo cello, but led to a feature for Susie Park in the lower register of the violin, and the spritely fourth movement alternated between sixteenth note and eighth note triplet runs, before its piano section brought the evening to an understated, but satisfying, finish. The quartet were called back twice for bows, praise well deserved for an exceptional evening of world-class chamber music.
Image courtesy of Shane Reid