Australian String Quartet
Perth Concert Hall
reviewed by Neville Cohn
The Australian String Quartet’s memorable account of Beethoven’s Rasumovsky Quartet, opus 59 no 3, presented in a year which has seen a number of similar ensembles from abroad making concert tours of the country, leaves one in no doubt at all that the homegrown product is as satisfying to experience as the imported variety.
Certainly, the ensemble’s reading of the Rasumovsky work came across with a flair and drive that made for rivetting listening. And the controlled skill with which the fugal measures of Beethoven’s masterwork were offered as the various instrumental lines coalesced and separated was an object lesson in what fine contrapuntal playing is all about.
Now, when Beethoven turned his hand to contrapuntal writing, it invariably bore his unmistakeable musical fingerprints. The same cannot be said of Mozart’s recourse to counterpoint. And while no-one would dispute the quality, clarity and beauty of his ideas in the Adagio and Fugue in C minor, few, I believe, would claim that it sounds like Mozart at his most original. In fact, at times one is left with the impression that it was the result of Mozart attending a séance to commune with the spirit of the departed Bach, taking some advice from this greatest master of fugue – and hurrying home to get it all down on paper. I like to think of the Adagio and Fugue in C minor as Mozart’s homage to his great predecessor.
Music in very different vein – Dvorak’s String Quartet No 10 – was given a performance that very beguilingly underscored the engagingly folksy nature of the writing.
Copyright 2004 Neville Cohn