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<<  -- 2 --  Bill Newman    BERLIN FESTIVAL DIARY


Norway's Vertavo Quartet were quarter-way through Sibelius opus 4. I was way up high, quickly realising that I could descend the winding stairs to my seat. Highly motivated, precise sounds and idyllic legato phrasing calmed my frustrations. This was early Sibelius in a superb acoustic setting, far more highlighted than on disc, projected with marvellous verve and aplomb. The acknowledged quartet masterpiece Voces intimae that followed brought added assurance to my impressions.

Remembering a much earlier introduction to this deeply-felt work by the celebrated Griller Quartet, here were four young ladies prepared to slow the opening measures to allow hushed harmonies to build into an outburst of glowing sonorities. Electrifying! The music took on an orchestral guise, each player merging with partners or interjecting new ideas with total control and commitment in an unbroken time span that brought delight to the ears.

The music of Allan Pettersson brings sterner demands. The composer's years of illness urged his discovery of life's truth and meaning, all too clearly evident in his symphonic writing. His chamber music -- Vier Improvisationen für Streichtrio / Sonata Nr 7 für zwei Violinen / Konzert für Violine und Streichquartett -- also contains similar clues to the effort required of a sick composer. Ulf Hoelscher's non-vibrato key-playing provided a catalyst to colleagues with sounds hard to decipher at just one hearing. Performances were of a high standard, which bade well for the Festival as it unfolded.

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Copyright © 5 December 2000 Bill Newman, Edgware, UK






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