In their first national tour of 2015, the Australian String Quartet presented a varied program celebrating their 30th year. Even if none of the original members are left, the spirit of the quartet still plays on, and in fine style.
Current players and directors Stephen King (viola) and Sharon Draper (cello) have harnessed the formidable talents of Wilma Smith and Cameron Hill to keep the ASQ active while they seek permanent appointments.
Haydn’s String Quartet in C major (op 76 no 3) Emperor, a work publicly played by the ASQ at their original concert, was first. Meant to be the Austrian anthem, it was adopted as such by Germany in 1922. Dolorous tones soon accelerated and gave way to passages with much more verve; the cello produced a highland drone as a foundation for the violins’ skirling effect.
The refrain familiar from Deutschland Über Alles entered in a lyrical mode, floating and as slow as a lullaby in one of its various permutations. Haydn’s composition shifted from melancholy to vigorous, and the ASQ’s grasp of it was masterly.
A highlight was the world premiere of Ross Edwards’ Gallipoli, a work specially commissioned by the Ian Potter Cultural Trust to commemorate the 100th anniversary of ANZAC. Played in the dark at the composer’s request, it began with faint, thin notes that gradually fused. The sense of gossamer lightness was maintained even as heavier tones were added. The sustained final sounds climbed to a high and beautifully eerie pitch. It was a moving experience.
Shostakovich’s String Quartet no 3 in F major, op 73 was, for all its occasional sombreness, a display of changing tempo and moods executed with commanding accuracy. The spare and slow pizzicato moments were precisely played, as were the abrupt turns and the final, breathtakingly ascendant violin moment.
Dessert was a sweet, if not so simple, slice of Tchaikovsky as an encore. Delicious! Many more years of the ASQ would be a wonderful thing.
The Australian String Quartet played one show only at the Town Hall as part of the 2015 Adelaide Festival program.
Click here for more Adelaide Festival reviews.
Your support will help us continue the important work of InReview in publishing free professional journalism that celebrates, interrogates and amplifies arts and culture in South Australia.Donate Here