REVIEW: Italian Serenade. Nelson Cathedral. Penderecki String Quartet. Thursday 7th February.
The Penderecki String Quartet comprise of Jeremy Bell, the lead violinist,Christine Vlajk, violist, Jerzy Kaplanek, violinist, and a remarkable cellist, whose name I cannot find anywhere.
Their skill and reputation attracted a full house, even though it was an afternoon performance. Extra chairs placed to the very side of the cathedral, were also full. A mostly retired audience possibly because of the time of day, but also Wolf& Bartok write music that is more intense and involved, than perhaps the more popular romantic music. It takes a seasoned ear to appreciate some of their music.
They opened with Rachmaninoff’s String quartet in G minor, No 1.Bell introduced it as one of Rachmaninoff’s early works and ‘the soulful voice of a young man’. There were two short pieces, both light and lovely introductions to the concert. I particularly liked the finger staccato counterpoint to the main theme of the piece.
Hugo Wolf wrote the central [and title] piece Italian Serenade, withBela Bartok’s string quartet No 5 completing the hour.
The quartet had a professional polished air throughout. I really felt I was watching and listening to a world class performance. Annually I am reminded that it’s so nice to be able to do that without leaving home, and I thank the festival organisers for that.
I confess that I am not as appreciative of Wolf and Bartok as the remainder of the audience. I find their style aggressive syncopated and challenging.
The quartet was completely up to the task. It was physically demanding music to play, as the cellist obviously felt with a quick wipe of the brow in between bars.However, as the finale roared into the home stretch the audience responded with almost a standing ovation. Cheers of ‘bravo’ and complements could be heard around the room.
- © Fairfax NZ News