It might be onerous to discover a extra applicable option to launch Musica Viva’s 2022 season: a crack younger Australian string quartet taking part in thrilling music by a younger, feminine Australian composer. Like many quartets, the Partridge String Quartet has undergone a change in personnel since they have been named recipients of Musica Viva’s 2020 “FutureMakers” Management Initiative. Between the 2 objects on this system, ebullient viola participant, Eunice Cheng, introduced that violinist Jos Jonker would be part of her, Mana Ohashi (violin), and Daniel Smith (cello) to finish the quartet following William Huxtable’s departure.
Commissioned for the 2018 Melbourne Worldwide Chamber Music Competitors, Holly Harrison’s Balderdash is a 15-minute journey of kaleidoscopic power. The sonic world of this composition is bookended by a screeching evocation of amplifier suggestions. In between, is what Harrison describes as “musical concepts impressed by electrical guitar, together with distortion, white noise, whammy bars, power-chords, dive-bombs, wah-wah, phaser results, slap bass… [and] makes use of punk rock rhythms, dissonance, and percussive-based jams, which morph out and in of bluegrass, grunge, prog-rock, steel, and… disco” – a formidable checklist of components. Though she says that “gamers go rogue (particularly the cello) all through the piece, she omits the truth that Balderdash could be very onerous on the arms. Within the post-concert Q&A with the musicians, Daniel Smith admitted that he and former competitors cellists had grown calluses from attaining a few of the results – strumming, plucking, sliding, and hitting their devices. Homing in on the idea of a contest, Harrison determined to discover rivalry between members of the quartet, and all members had an amazing quantity of enjoyable following the instruction to “carry out with abandon”. Mana Ohashi led the way in which on first violin, taking part in with splendidly incisive, targeted aggression – usually excessive on the E-string. At instances, she and Jos Jonker appeared like the 2 ugly sisters furiously browbeating a Cinderella viola and cello. Fortuitously, the 2 decrease devices had their very own method of preventing again. The fixed variation in assault, dynamics, tone, tempi and, notably, rhythm require immense focus; all gamers met the complicated calls for with passionate drive and a way of unity, even within the warmth of battle.
Given the excessive tensile theatrics of Balderdash, it was simply as properly there was a brief interlude earlier than Schubert’s chic String Quintet in C main. Musica Viva’s Senior Growth Supervisor, Susan Eldridge, spoke in regards to the pleasure of experiencing music as soon as once more in a shared area and the ability of music to “join us to ourselves and to others”. She additionally spoke about securing Victorian Authorities funding – an all-important facet of musical efficiency and schooling – for Strike A Chord in 2022 and the Melbourne Worldwide Chamber Music Competitors in 2023. This live performance was, in truth, a tribute to Musica Viva’s benefactor, Dr Graeme Watson. Eunice Cheng then spoke about how the Schubert Quintet had been the primary piece the quartet members had performed collectively once they met on the Australian Nationwide Academy of Music 4 years in the past, and launched cellist James Morley as their “epic backup”.
Eunice Cheng known as Schubert’s Quintet “a ceremony of passage”, and most lovers of classical chamber music would agree that his beautiful creation is breathtaking in its magnificence and emotional depth. With Jos Jonker taking part in first violin this time, the gamers instantly impressed with their sense of unity and mutual consciousness. Jonker has a heat considerably coated tone in contrast with Ohashi’s, however they blended fantastically and it was pleasing to listen to a second violin as an equal conversationalist. Finely built-in stability mixed with a transparent concept of tips on how to permit particular person voices come to prominence was an indicator of the primary motion. Cheng’s beneficiant, wealthy viola was allowed to bloom so naturally. (No fights there.) The miraculous Adagio noticed some notably delicate, virtually fragile taking part in from Jonker, underpinned by the opposite gamers transferring as one in tranquil harmony. The stormy center part noticed intense surges of ardour earlier than returning the haunting great thing about the opening part, the place even a plucked notice from a resonant cello grew to become an eloquent assertion.
Cheng had inspired listeners to applaud after every motion in the event that they felt like doing so, and after some hesitation, torn between an unwillingness to intrude on the second and present their appreciation, many did. The country dance rhythms of the Scherzo, and the Allegretto with its Hungarian influenced first theme and Viennese second theme have been handled with exuberant power and beauty. After the construct up of pleasure within the ultimate coda, everyone was greater than keen to provide the Partridge String Quartet and James Morley the enthusiastic acclaim they deserved.
A repeat efficiency shall be given within the Elisabeth Murdoch Corridor on Saturday, March 5 at 7pm. Don’t miss it!
Heather Leviston reviewed “Partridge String Quartet & James Morley”, offered by Musica Viva on the Melbourne Recital Centre on March 1, 2022.