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Kelemen Quartet


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Musica Viva has been bringing chamber music to Australia since 1945, when it was founded by Romanian-born violinist Richard Goldner, who arrived here as a refugee. Fast forward 69 years, and it’s thrilling to see how integral the organisation is in the Australian performing arts world, and the calibre of musicians it both attracts and promotes.

The Hungarian Kelemen Quartet is no exception. Presented in partnership with the Adelaide Festival, its performance at the Adelaide Town Hall was a very special night.

The quartet has been winning awards and garnering acclaim since its formation in Budapest in 2010. It comprises Barnabás Kelemen on violin, Katalin Kokas on violin/viola, Gábor Homoki on violin/viola and Dóra Kokas on cello, but was down to three members before its Adelaide concert. Kokas fractured her wrist while in Sydney, with Kelemen prompting a little laughter with his explanation as to how – she was surfing and had a run in with an Argentinian surfer.

Kokas’s absence meant a change in both line-up and program, with Australian composer Ross Edwards’ commissioned work “Summer Dances” unable to be learnt and rehearsed in time by replacement guest cellist Ákos Takács. There were several apologies about this, but Kelemen and Homoki still performed a shorter composition by Edwards, “Ecstatic Dance”, and Takács, who is also Hungarian, was an excellent stand-in for Kokas.

The quartet’s interpretations of four composers – Haydn, Bartók, Beethoven and Edwards – in the opulent surroundings of the Town Hall were very well received and the program selections showcased variety, maturity and a clear love for Béla Bartók, Hungary’s most famous composer. Their piece taken from his String Quartet No 4 was extremely emotive, with Kelemen referring to the cello as the “voice” of the piece.

My date for the night (my mother) favoured their interpretation of Beethoven (String Quartet No 9 in C major), but the quartet seemed able to please across the board with their vibrant and entrancing performance. It was just a shame there weren’t more younger people among the audience to experience the music, which truly moved and inspired.

The Kelemen Quartet performed one concert as part of the Adelaide Festival program before continuing a national tour.

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Click here for InDaily’s stories and reviews from the 2014 Adelaide Festival, including WOMADelaide and Adelaide Writers’ Week.


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