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"Exquisite performance enthrals audience" by Holly Mathieson
From The Otago Daily Times (New Zealand)
It?s not often a Dunedin audience makes a collective decision to stay longer than required
at a concert, especially when the temperature outside is hovering close to zero.
But the Shanghai Quartet graced us with an exquisite encore in the form of the second
movement from Ravel?s String Quartet. I was surprised they could make it back on stage,
let alone pick their instruments up, after a virtuosic rendering of Beethoven?s mammoth
Quartet in C sharp minor. The encore was so beautiful, in fact, that many enthusiastic
audience members were heard whispering they would have given up one of the
Beethovens to hear the Ravel in its entirety.
Music organisations regularly give Dunedin the most conservative music in their
repertoire, perhaps assuming we won?t come if it?s not the "meat and three veg" of
Beethoven, Mozart and Beethoven.
The highlight of this concert, however, was second violinist Yi-Wen Jiang?s Chinasong,
moving settings of traditional and popular Chinese songs, of which we heard three. It is
hard to say whether the folk melodies were perfectly suited to the expansive, pastoral
effects a string quartet can provide, or whether it was an inspired translation from the
indigenous instrumentation on Jiang?s part. Regardless, it worked, and many from the
capacity audience flocked to buy a copy during the interval.
Beethoven?s Quartet in B flat opened the programme and the quartet played with vivacity
and clarity perfectly suited to early Beethoven. Impressive, too, was the modest use of
vibrato, separating this earlier quartet from the later in the second half in tone and style.
These are masterful performers who explore the colours and boundaries of their
instruments fully and wisely.
Chamber Music New Zealand regularly brings us a feast of outstanding international
talent. This was no exception and I eagerly await their return.
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