The Goldner String Quartet is an ensemble of outstanding musicians, this concert clearly show casing their unified understanding and sensitivity to the music of the 19th century repertoire. The internationally significant Australian quartet was able to capture the audience and take them on an enthralling journey through works of three of the greats of this period.
Opening the concert was a selection of movements from Dvorak’s Cypresses B.152, originally a set of 18 early songs for voice and piano revised by Dvorak in 1887 for string quartet. These songs came of Dvorak’s love for his 16 year old pupil who later married into aristocracy.
The selections played by the quartet were: [list type=’arrow’]
- I ‘I know that my love’
- III ‘When thy sweet glances’
- XI ‘Nature lies peaceful’
- VII ‘I wander oft’
- XII ‘You ask why’
The characters of the short episodes were instantly captured by the ensemble, expressing the different emotions associated with the love lost by Dvorak.
Next on the program was Mendelssohn’s String Quartet No. 2 in A minor. Inspired by Beethoven’s late string quartets, this work is derived from the melody of Mendelssohn’s song Frage (Question), Op. 9 No. 1 also known as Ist es wahr? (Is it true?) The first three notes create this characteristic theme similar to Beethoven’s Muss es sein? (Must it be?).
I began to connect more with this work as the performance progressed and by the 3rd and 4th movement I was fully engaged. The ending was totally captivating – with the final return of this theme, the final question, after a solo from Dene Olding (first violinist).
Following the interval was Schubert’s dramatic String Quartet in D minor, Death and the Maiden. It is speculated that at the time of composition, Schubert was going through a personal crisis that intensified his awareness of death.
“Think of a man whose health can never be restored, and who from sheer despair makes matters worse instead of better. Think, I say, of a man whose brightest hopes have come to nothing, to whom love and friendship are but torture, and whose enthusiasm for the beautiful is fast vanishing; and ask yourself if such a man is not truly unhappy.” – Schubert
The piece is based on the Tod (Death) theme from his song Der Tod und das Mädchen which is first heard in the 2nd movement of this quartet.
I first heard this piece earlier this year and immediately fell in love with Schubert’s passionate writing. The Goldner Quartet’s performance of the work was no exception. The contrast between solemn moments, drama, reminiscing, frantic moments and beauty made it hard for me to pull my attention away.
All works on the program were based on poetry and/or songs with which the composers incorporated into the ideas of their works. For me, the Quartet truly delved into their understandings and as they played, they had the audience on their side. The response from the audience confirmed this, with a very positive response and standing ovations.
The Goldner String Quartet delivered, for me, an incredibly memorable performance that perhaps like me, left the audience with a deeper understanding and appreciation of the music of these dramatic composers.
This was their last advertised performance for the year in Sydney. They will however be performing at the Huntington Estate Music Festival from the 20th-24th of November in Mudgee, NSW.
Goldner String Quartet:
- Dene Olding – Violin
- Dimity Hall – Violin
- Irina Morozova – Viola
- Julian Smiles – Cello