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Concerts In The West REVIEW: "Much to admire" from the Evropa String Quartet
1:16pm Wednesday 30th October 2013 in What's On
WHAT a very fine British quartet with a finely judged range of works and admirable research.
Apart from a few rough edges, including problems in upper register intonation and occasional lapsed ensemble playing in this very demanding programme, there was much to admire in the Evropska String Quartet.
Their awareness of phrasing in the opening piece, Haydn’s D major Quartet Op 20 No 4, was inspiring.
They captured, too, the humour in its very concise Hungarian minuet and they applied the device picked up from modern baroque playing, of "phrasing off" phrase lengths.
However, here and elsewhere, some of the very quiet playing lacked tone and projection allowing the very enthusiastic audience to lose contact momentarily.
The Quartet's tour de force was the performance of their much-researched Janácek’s Second String Quartet, subtitled Intimate Letters.
The letters in question refer to the almost 700 missives written between the composer and Kamila Stösslova,awoman nearly 40 years his junior.
While the quartet was in Prague last year they came away with a copy of an earlier, truer version of the score.
To bridge the emotional gap between the highly-charged Janácek in 1928 and Beethoven at the height of his powers in 1806, the Evropska Quartet inserted a work not often heard byacomposer not associated with chamber music – Puccini.
Chrysanthemums is a single movement, a sorrowful elegy, reflecting that in Italy the chrysanthemum is the flower of mourning.
The Evropska players, all young conservatoire graduates, would be the first to recognise that Beethoven quartets requirealifetime of experience.
The opportunity to play the second of the Razumovsky Quartets three times in as many days (at additional concerts in Dorset and Devon) furthered their cause.
The audiences did not find them wanting: how well they sustained Beethoven’s deeply felt Adagio!
The next Concerts in the West performance will be on February 21, 2014 - for more details visit www.concertsinthewest.org