|Beauty and Turbulence | Escher String Quartet|
|Written by Anna Locke|
|Sunday, 19 February 2012 07:27|
Delicate chamber music filled the State Theatre Centre for the first time as part of the 2012 Perth International Arts Festival. Hailing from New York, the Escher String Quartet (Adam Barnett-Hart and Wu Jie – Violin, Pierre Lapointe – Viola, and Dane Johansen – Cello) joined forces with composer and viola player Brett Dean for Beauty and Turbulence, the first of three concerts over the Brahms Chamber Weekend.
Johannes Brahms' String Quintets No. 1 and 2, both for two violins, two violas and cello were complemented and contrasted with Dean's piece Eclipse, written for two violins, a viola and cello. It was an evening of rich, enlightened music. The Heath Ledger Theatre is an ideal venue for chamber music and I trust it will be utilized again for further more intimate concerts.
Composed in 1882, the String Quintet No.1 in F is a light, warm piece in three movements with a cracking last movement that combines the baroque style fugue with sonata form. It put a resounding cheerfulness in the air, and I would not have been surprised if the performers leapt off their chairs and moved to the music as the piece drew enthusiastically to its conclusion.
Brett Dean introduced Eclipse, a rarity in the classical world (understandably), and it was superb to hear directly from him the circumstances of the composition. Composed in 2003 as his response to the Tampa crisis (August 2001), where he felt that "the personal stories of the people involved were eclipsed by the political agenda". Originally commissioned by the Cologne Philharmonie /Auryn Quartet for their 2003/2004 season, the Escher Quartet has performed Eclipse twice, in London and New York.
With Dean's words forefront in the minds of the audience, it was easy to hear in the brooding sustained legato and portamento (audibly sliding from one note to another) the ships horns, screams of people and the terror of being lost in the waves. The quartet filled the theatre with the emotion of the piece, at times pizzicato and chaotic, other times melancholy and moody with the long drawn out notes seemingly never ending. The conclusion, one of "ambivalent openness" according to Dean, left the audience slightly stunned, before a collective breath, a gathering of emotions and rapturous applause.
Post interval we heard Brahms' String Quintet No. 2 in G, with the Escher Quartet joined again by Dean on the Viola. This was a melodic piece, a lively opening featuring the cello making way for a more subdued, dreamy middle section. A fast finale followed by an even faster coda showcased the brilliant finger work from the five performers and brought the evening's performance to a resounding conclusion.
The Escher String Quartet takes its name from the Dutch artist M.C. Escher, when they were inspired by his method of interplay between individual components working together to form a whole. These four performers are definitively a cohesive team, evident in the seamless playing and interaction between each other on stage.
Escher String Quartet
Beauty and Turbulence
Venue: Heath Ledger Theatre, State Theatre Centre of WA
Date: Feb 17, 2012
Tickets: $59.50 – $25
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