Lisa’s rich viola playing is a concert rarity

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Skride Piano Quartet

Music / “Skride Piano Quartet” for Musica Viva, at Llewellyn Hall, November 14. Reviewed by TONY MAGEE. 

BEETHOVEN composed three piano quartets in 1785, one of which was the “Piano Quartet no 1 in E-flat major”.

The work reveals the astounding talent and maturity of a 15-year-old boy, already reaching a peak of compositional greatness, which further increased over his 57 years of life.

In the hands of Skride Piano Quartet, the work came across with conviction and sonority.

Of particular note throughout the entire concert was the tone projection, superb intonation and beauty of sound from viola player Lisa Berthaud.

I’ve never heard such lustrous, rich and boldly included tones and passages from this instrument. It is rare to find compositions which feature the viola so prominently.

In addition, the beautiful intonation and projection of cellist Julian Steckel, particularly when he played in the upper register, came through with grace and beauty.

For my taste, the piano, played by Lauma Stride, was too reserved. More an accompaniment than an integral part of the quartet.

Specially commissioned for the concert was Australian composer Graeme Koehne’s “Socrates’ Garden”, which followed the Beethoven.

Alas, placed in between Beethoven and Brahms, the difference between inspired genius and a talented modern composer was very evident.

The quartet played the piece beautifully, but as a composition, at best it could be described as “pretty”.

Brahms’ massive and complex “Piano Quartet no 1 in G minor, Op. 25” was the centrepiece after interval.

In this, the pianist came forward and delivered a much more focussed, vital and integral contribution to the piece, particularly in the Andante movement where tone projection and beauty of sound was excellent.

Leader and sister Baiba Skride, playing first violin, delivered a beautiful sound throughout the entire concert. Sometimes I felt she could have projected a little more.

My feeling for the duration of this well-played concert, was that it was not quite up to the level of professionalism and international standards that Music Viva usually presents.

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