Two superb concert reviews from Wigmore Hall

2019-04-25

Seen and Heard International & The Times

foto © Marco Borggreve

"The violinist has a technique as strong as steel allied with musicality as subtle as silk: it’s wonderful to watch the power evident in her precise, muscular finger-work and the strength of her full bow strokes, but the results are as often delicate as they are dynamic.  The ensemble ‘feels’ democratic; the four individuals achieve an excellent balance, and the conversations are co-operative and communal.  The attention to detail that they displayed was admirable in its own right, but all the more so for the way in which it was complemented by thoughtful, often original, interpretation and crafting."

Seen and Heard International, 24th April 2019

The full review HERE.

 

A superbly considered and immaculately executed Radio 3 lunchtime recital of two of Shostakovich’s string quartets

It was only a matter of time before the passionate, purposeful Czechs of the Pavel Haas Quartet turned their attention to Shostakovich’s 15 string quartets, which they are starting to record. For a group so adept at bringing out the neuroses and tensions even in seemingly restrained music, the anguished chamber music of Shostakovich — into which he poured his darkest and sometimes most unresolved feelings — is obvious repertoire. I’m just surprised they resisted it for so long. 

In this superbly considered and immaculately executed Radio 3 lunchtime recital (available on the BBC iPlayer) they tackled the epic Second Quartet, written in 1944 with the war still raging, preceded by the Seventh Quartet from 1960, which, although miniature in scale, is enormous in intensity. Shostakovich dedicated it to the memory of his first wife, but the way the Pavel Haas play it — bleakness giving way to a finale hurled out with terrifying fervour at a blistering pace before collapsing into deep melancholy — it could just as easily be a reflection of a world that seemed to be hurtling towards nuclear annihilation.

The Second has its frenetic moments too, particularly when the finale is whipped up into a nightmarish passage that sounds as if the quartet is trapped on an outof-control fairground ride. The heart of this work, however, is the astonishing Recitative and Romance second movement, where the first violin soars — partly in rhapsody, more often in elegy — over held chords. I have never heard it played with as much subtle nuance or richness of timbre as Veronika Jaruskova did here. A packed audience scarcely dared breathe.

Quibbles? Only that the players fell a little short of making this quartet’s strangely perfunctory ending sound convincing as a final destination for such charged music. Perhaps that is more Shostakovich’s fault. It’s almost as if, in this early piece, he has lifted the lid on something that will take another six or seven quartets for him to resolve.

The Times, 25th April 2019

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