On Thursday evening, 25 July, the Flinders String Quartet performed a beautiful concert in the Armidale Town Hall, featuring works by Shostakovich and Schumann. The evening began with a narration of excerpts from Wendy Lesser’s book Music for Silenced Voices, which described moments from Shostakovich’s life. The stage was set with a lone portrait of Shostakovich on a small pedestal next to a vintage radio, with the quartet sitting behind. The quartet paired each narrative excerpt with selected movements from Shostakovich’s 15 string quartets.
To reflect each period of Shostakovich’s life, the quartet chose movements ranging from his early quartets and their elegant nostalgic melodies to the more familiar chilling chromatic melodies of his later quartets where the violin soars over the ensembles rich chorale-like inner voice to the darkness of his very last quartet. The quartets focus on blending tone and vibrato gave an overall balance to the performance while the first violinist, without standing out, gave an honest and silky rendition of these eerie melodies that seem to develop as the quartet moved through deeper into the music.
This was an entertaining and engaging performance and highlighted the contextual significance of the composers work like no other performance I have seen.
The 2nd half of the program was a much more joyous occasion with Robert Schumann’s String Quartet Opus 41, No. 3 in A major. The violinists of the quartet switched roles in the ensemble which added a more organic balance of movement and confidence to the group. I feel the ensemble felt more confident in the Schumann but the stand out for the evening was the Shostakovich. Thank you to the Musica Viva Armidale for bringing such outstanding musicians to Armidale once again.
Robert Jackson – NECOM Cello Teacher