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The moments before the performance, awaiting the arrival of the artists on stage, are infused with an electric frisson of excitement in the hall as the capacity audience, which the Radio 3 series has regularly attracted during its first three years, create a hubbub of enthusiastic chatter as ambient background to the engaging spoken introduction of the charismatic BBC presenter Fiona Talkington.

The Skampa Quartet. Photo © Ivan Pinkava
The Skampa Quartet. Photo © Ivan Pinkava

The Skampa immediately conveyed a powerful, even paradoxical stage presence: its members perform standing, which allows greater freedom and projection, and yet their style is incredibly intimate, and nuance-filled. Their remarkable finesse of tone and balance is partly the result of their original distribution, with the lower strings interchanged, the cellist, Lukas Polak, markedly attired in a black sequined shirt and long hair, at the back in the centre and on his right the violist Radim Sedmidubsky, distinctively clad in a high round collar grey shirt, set forward just a little with a result of greater emphasis.

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Copyright © 26 January 2006 Malcolm Miller, London UK


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