Music review: Quatuor Ebène

Edinburgh International Festival Scotsman review: Quatuor Ebène at the Queen’s Hall, reviewed by Carol Main

Drawing this year’s Queen’s hall morning series to a triumphant finale on Saturday, Quatuor Ebène’s debut Edinburgh International Festival performance bore all the hallmarks of a classic string quartet recital.

In a well-devised programme starting with Haydn’s Emperor Quartet they moved to the less well known but engrossing String Quartet no.4 by Bartok, finishing with Mendelssohn’s wonderfully inventive string Quartet no.2 Op 13.

Bringing energy and passion as well as superb musicianship to all three composers’ work, Hadyn was fresh and vigorous, driving forward towards its exhilarating finale from the off. Introducing a rawer-edged excitement for Bartok, the quartet were unfailingly secure as an ensemble, with strong playing from all four members.

The two violins swapped places for the Mendelssohn, giving additional evidence of the group’s versatility. Spontaneous and yet fully controlled, the music was appropriately impassioned, with some exquisite and at times seductive solo playing from the first violin.

Heart-stoppingly sensitive in the second movement Adagio, Quatuor Ebène gave their appreciative audience a fair share of spell-binding moments. All-in-all this was a first-rate performance from a quartet which will surely be invited to return to Edinburgh in future.

Originally published in The Scotsman

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