Competent quartet not quite combining as one

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The Grevillea Quartet. Photo: Peter Hislop.

Music / Grevillea Quartet presents Barber and Dvorak, Larry Sitsky recital room, ANU School of Music. Thursday, April 22. Reviewed by GRAHAM MCDONALD.

AS far as I can tell, the Grevillea Quartet is the only dedicated string quartet regularly performing in Canberra at the moment. 

At least a couple of other chamber ensembles have quartets of players at their core, but more often expand their forces to suit the repertoire.

From necessity the quartet is not a full-time activity for them, and like every other musical group around, their activities have been restricted for the past year or more.

This was their first concert for the year, performing Samuel Barber’s “String Quartet in B minor, Op.11”, from 1936 and Antonin Dvorak’s “String Quartet in F minor, Op.96” written in 1893.

The second movement of the Barber quartet was subsequently re-arranged as the “Adagio for Strings”, his best-known work. The Dvorak quartet is full of memorable melodic themes which are revisited with variations and is a most attractive piece of music.

A good string quartet can have a magic about it, where what’s coming off the stage is greater than the sum of its parts. The four instruments blend together as one entity.

Unfortunately, the Grevillea Quartet has not reached this stage of their development as yet. This concert was four, obviously competent, musicians on stage, but not quite combining as a single unit. When there are only four notes being played, they all have to be in time and in tune.

Sadly this was not happening as much as it needed to be in this performance and they did not really look as though they were enjoying themselves. There was little eye contact or communication between the players.

Perhaps a producer of some kind, what would be a “dramaturg” in the theatre world, could be found with an ArtsACT grant to work with them and refine the detail of their playing.

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