Bruckner’s rarely performed quintet shines

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The Three Bs, Quatuor Voce. Photo: Peter Hislop.

Music / CIMF, Concert 8 – “The Three B’s”, Quatuor Voce, Fitters Workshop, May 5. Reviewed by LEN POWER

FRENCH string quartet Quatuor Voce has enjoyed a highly successful and varied international career over the past 15 years. 

In addition to their own concerts, they have performed to silent movies and there has been notable work with cellist Vincent Segal, singers Kyrie Kristmanson and Aynur, choreographers Thomas Lebrun and the brothers Ben Aïm, and the accordionist Vincent Peirani.  Their recordings have been praised internationally.

In this concert, Quatuor Voce marked their Australian debut with a program of Bach, Beethoven and Brahms’ contemporary, Anton Bruckner.

Bach’s “The Art of Fugue” is an incomplete musical work of unspecified instrumentation. The quartet opened their concert with two parts from this work – Contrapuncti V and X11a. These precisely played short pieces were a perfect entrée for the two main works of the concert.

Written in 1809, Beethoven’s “String Quartet No. 10 in E-flat major”, Op. 74, was nicknamed the “Harp” quartet, referring to the characteristic pizzicato sections in the allegro of the first movement. Quatuor Voce played it superbly, giving the Adagio a delicate dream-like quality, followed by a nicely edgy third movement and culminating in a memorable fourth movement.

Australian violist James Wannan joined the quartet for the final work, Bruckner’s rarely performed “String Quintet in F Major”. Bruckner’s only large chamber music work. It was composed in 1879.

The quintet gave an excellent performance of the work, from the moderate opening movement, through the busy scherzo to the atmospheric adagio, and on to the finale. The playing of the adagio was especially memorable in its tenderness and feeling.

The evening finished with an encore of another “B” – Brahms – an excerpt from his “String Quintet No. 2 in G major”, Op. 111.

In this concert, Quatuor Voce showed the playing skills that make them highly sought after performers. James Wannan confided to the audience that he had had the best time working with them. The audience had the best time listening to them.

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