Music / “Entr’Acte”, Ellery String Quartet. At Wesley Music Centre, July 29. Reviewed by GRAHAM McDONALD.
THE Ellery String Quartet is a new ensemble in Canberra, four ANU music students, who also Wesley Music Foundation scholarship recipients.
The quartet is Brad Than, 1st violin, Anika Chan, 2nd violin, Yona Su, viola and James Monro, cello. They are all individual players of high skill and blend remarkably well for such a new grouping.
This concert was in three sections, opening with “Entre’acte”, a work by contemporary American composer Caroline Shaw, whose Grammy winning composition “Partita for 8 Voices” was performed here a by American vocal ensemble A Room Full of Teeth a couple of years back. Entre’acte is written around a minuet, which in itself is rather attractive, but devolves into a series of sound effects as it develops. The quartet did seem to enjoy playing it and it would certainly have posed some technical challenges.
The second work was Edvard Grieg’s only surviving and completed String Quartet, in G Minor. This is an energetic work built around recurring themes of Norwegian dance music. The quartet applied themselves with enthusiasm, leaving room for plenty of dynamics and accurate playing throughout.
The second half of the concert was a performance of a suite of Danish and other Nordic folk tunes arranged and/or composed by the Danish String Quartet and released on their album “Last Leaf” several years back. There are 15 short works in the suite which retain the original folk tunes at their core but are inventively arranged for string quartet. Again, the Ellery Quartet’s laying was confident and assured. There were watching, and more importantly, listening to each other to work as a group rather than four individuals.
This was a most enjoyable, if surprisingly lengthy concert, of a high standard and deserved more audience that it got. A pleasant addition were the copious program notes by Brad Than, though the group should really include some brief biographical material so we know a little bit about them. I look forward to their next concert.
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