Last Friday (20th July), I went to see one of the most dynamic string quartets in Australia, the Enigma Quartet. These four young and exceptionally talented musicians performed the first in their current Concert Series at the Conservatorium of Music which has been 7 years in the planning. If you were lucky enough you might have already seen them at the Rocks on June 4th where they played the same repertoire. And what a compelling repertoire! Challenging to the performers but highly enjoyable for the audience. We were treated to some Mozart, Sculthorpe and Janacek.
The concert hall was packed. Everyone came to support them in this major step in their career as a quartet. They performed magnificently Mozart’s most daring String Quartet, the Quartet No. 19 in C major which earned the nickname “Dissonance” as it broke all the rules in the book when it was composed in 1785.
Then the 1st violin, Marianne Broadfoot explained the next piece: Sculthorpe’ String Quartet No. 11 “ Jabiru Dreaming”. The Australian composer was inspired by the Aboriginal tribes people in the area of the Kakadu National Park. We could hear the sound of the didgeridoo, insects buzzing and bird cries such as seagulls from the cellist. Rowena Macneish’s cello sang beautifully in the second movement, which Sculthorpe based on the 19th century Frenchman Nicolas Baudin’s notation of Aboriginal melodies.
The last piece was Janacek’ String Quartet No. 1 called “The Kreutzer Sonata” and is based on Tolstoy’s novella. The cellist, Rowena Macneish, told us the story of a husband suspecting his wife, a pianist, of having an affair with a young violinist – as you do… An argument starts and finishes with the murder of the wife by the jealous husband. Keeping this story in mind informed the performance.
The Enigma Quartet played with confidence and passion and with a powerful and eloquent sound. You need chemistry and a strong connection between the players to make the music work and to sound dynamic. Enigma Quartet has been chosen to be a Musica Viva Rising Stars ensemble for 2012 and is playing at the Standard with another Rising Stars, the Streeton Trio on Sat 11th Aug. Check this out here and on Facebook. Their next concert is Sept 12 at the Con and they will play Mendelssohn, Sallinen and Debussy. I can’t wait to see them again!