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REVIEWS

Your monthly critical round-up of performances, recordings and publications
A spellbinding Quartet for the End of Time at the Crypt
ANDREW OUSLEY

New York

CONCERTS

THIS MONTH’S RECOMMENDED RECORDINGS Our pick of the new release

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★ Exhilarating Barque jam session from Lina Tur Bonet

STEFAN JACKIW (VIOLIN) JAY CAMPBELL (CELLO) YOONAH KIM (CLARINET) ORION WEISS (PIANO)

THE CRYPT, CHURCH OF THE INTERCESSION 5 FEBRUARY 2019

STEFAN JACKIW (VIOLIN) JAY CAMPBELL (CELLO) YOONAH KIM (CLARINET) ORION WEISS (PIANO)

THE CRYPT, CHURCH OF THE INTERCESSION 5 FEBRUARY 2019

A few minutes before this foursome launched into Messiaens Quartetfor the End of Time, Yoonah Kims fluent clarinet could be heard in a room adjacent to the Crypt, the subterranean venue at the Church of the Intercession in upper Manhattan. Her bubbling tone gave the uncanny sensation of birds waking up -an apt metaphor, considering the composer.

That sunny preview gave only the barest hint of the volcanic intensity to come, with colleagues Stefan Jackiw on violin, Jay Campbell on cello, and Orion Weiss at the piano -all arranged dramatically against a candlelit backdrop for only 49 lucky souls (not counting the mute ones along the walls).

In the unison sequences with Jackiw and Campbell, the duo’s intonation was so true that one imagined it emanating from some violin/cello hybrid. In the fifth section, ‘Louange å l’Éternité de Jésus’, as Weiss’s ethereal chords resonated off the crypt’s stone surfaces, Campbell summoned extraordinary concentration, with carefully rationed vibrato and quietly searing tone -religious ecstasy achieved with magnificent understatement.

In the finale, ‘Louange â lTmmortalité de Jésus’, Jackiw’s control mirrored that of his colleagues, with Weiss again in tender rapport. As the final bars softly melted away -Jackiw making his heavenly ascent before bowing out -Weiss had the last word. Silence ensued, with no one daring to break the spell.

BRUCE HODGES

HEATH QUARTET

WEILL RECITAL HALL 8 FEBRUARY 2019

The Heath Quartet’s sophisticated approach, tasteful use of vibrato and open sound resulted in a delightful performance of Haydn’s D major Quartet op.20 no.4 at Carnegie Hall. The players’ semiquaver passages were exceptionally clear — never scrubby -and their thoughtful approach to harmonic changes were two of the many facets of their playing that demonstrated that ‘light’ does not have to mean without thought or beauty, and can be as powerful as rich, luscious playing.

In particular I enjoyed the cello variation in the Un poco adagio, which was both tender and whimsical. The first violin variation was beautifully nuanced, although occasionally overpowered by the supporting voices (and their devotion to highlighting dissonance and resolution).

Reviews of recordings are now free to browse online www.thestrad.com/reviews

A lovely introduction by the cellist set an appropriate framework and expectation for Britten’s First String Quartet, and the somewhat muted colours of the opening took on an expansive feel which mirrored the composer’s home landscape. Although the introduction of Beethoven’s ‘Rasumovsky’ Quartet no.3 never quite achieved the atmosphere I think the ensemble was looking for (likely because of audience distractions), the first movement was jubilant and filled with whimsical surprises – use of rubato, sforzandos taken quite literally, and decrescendoing ascending lines. I loved the character they created in the Andante, and first violinist Oliver Heath’s playing in particular stood out. The Allegro molto was impressively quick – electric, even – but overall the quartet’s sunny playing was not simply filled with energy, but with life.

LEAH HOLLINGSWORTH

MlVOS QUARTET, NADAV LEV (GUITAR, ELECTRIC GUITAR) MILLER THEATRE, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY 12 FEBRUARY 2019

The ‘Pop-Up’ series at Miller Theatre continues to present fascinating performances of new music, and the pairing of the Mivos Quartet with guitarist Nadav Lev provided a provocative programme.

Yair Klartag’s Nothing to express displayed interesting similarities between the electric guitar and string quartet in its use of harmonics, similar articulations, pitch and bow use (brushing the strings with the bow in a way that sounded like a guitarist’s strum, for example). Tristan Murail’s Tellur for solo guitar followed. It had some Spanish flamenco echoes in its harmonies and textures, as well as an eerie mix of techniques and sounds that made the work feel both old and new.

Distorted Attitudes IV / Facile synthesis, a New York premiere for string quartet by Anahita Abbasi, was fascinating: the quartet achieved wind-like sounds using prepared instruments, as well as rattles, screeching and scratching sounds, all of which mirrored, amplified or distorted the electric guitar. Although I would not necessarily choose to listen to this work in my living room, the Mivos did an outstanding job of presenting it, and the performance was entirely compelling -if not easy on the ear.

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About The Strad

The Shanghai Quartet celebrates its 35th anniversary and we hand on some yoga tips for string players. There’s an in-depth look at Stradivari’s working methods and Shostakovich’s violin works. Plus Maxim Rysanov’s Life Lessons and Rivka golani’s Sentimental Work