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At first sight the programme may have seemed somewhat 'heavy'; instead it proved utterly galvanising from the serious C minor Beethoven String Quartet, Opus 18, No 4; via the compact and introspective Shostakovitch, Quartet No 7; to the intense drama of Schubert's Death and the Maiden, the best-known of his consummate string quartets.

A precision and cohesion that infused the whole programme was evident from the opening bars of Beethoven's early quartet and sustained through to the exciting Rondo alla zingarese coda.

Then, in this Shostakovitch anniversary year, it was gratifying to hear something other than the oft-repeated autobiographical 8th Quartet -- indeed the shorter 7th Quartet was, to my mind, equally rewarding.

As for the Schubert, here was a powerfully satisfying account with each player more than alive to the considerable technical and interpretive demands of the composer's inspired score.

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Copyright © 3 August 2006 Howard Smith, Masterton, New Zealand


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