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Warming program of string quartets

Canberra Symphony Orchestra’s Chamber Ensemble at Albert Hall. Photo: supplied

Music / Reverie Chamber Classics, CSO Chamber Ensemble. At Albert Hall, Yarralumla, May 12. Reviewed by LEN POWER.

On a chilly autumn afternoon, Canberra Symphony Orchestra’s Chamber Ensemble presented a warming program of string quartets by Joseph Haydn and Edvard Grieg.

The Chamber Ensemble, consisting of Kirsten Williams, violin; Pip Thompson, violin; Lucy Carrigy-Ryan, viola and Patrick Suthers, cello, began with Haydn’s String Quartet in F major, Op.50, No.5 The Dream.

Composed in 1787, it is one of six quartets of his Opus 50. Four of the quartets, including The Dream, were lost for centuries until they turned up in a shopping bag in Melbourne in the 1980s. The find was a revelation to Haydn scholars.

This gorgeous work began brightly, surging along with energy and an underlying tension. It was followed by the serene second movement that earned this quartet the nickname The Dream. The ensemble’s playing of this part was exceptionally clear and moving.

The third movement, a minuet with dark undertones, was also given a fine performance leading into the finale, played with energy and sparkle.

Composer Joseph Haydn… four of his quartets, including The Dream, were lost for centuries until they turned up in a shopping bag in Melbourne in the 1980s.

The second item on the program was Grieg’s String Quartet No. 1 in G minor, Op. 27. It was the second of three string quartets written by the composer – the first is now lost. It was written in 1877-78.

Setting a dark tone at the beginning of the first movement, the richness of Grieg’s music carried through the whole quartet. His beloved Norwegian folk music informs the work throughout. It was given a colourful performance by the ensemble through all four movements. Their playing of the melodious second movement and the stirring finale was particularly enjoyable.

Right on cue, the sun streamed in through the large windows of Albert Hall as the audience showed appreciation for this charming concert.

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