Pavel Haas Quartet

Edinburgh International Festival Scotsman review (music): Pavel Haas Quartet at the Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh. Reviewed by Carol Main

After being given an intriguing glimpse of the music of Erwin Schulhoff earlier in the week, in a Queen’s Hall programme structured around music associated with Terezin in the latter years of the Second World War, it was an additional revelation to hear his first string quartet in yesterday morning’s Queen’s Hall recital.

It is the sort of music which is perfectly suited to the bright sound of the relatively youthful Pavel Haas Quartet, who bear the name of another composer who died in a concentration camp.

Pitching their level of attack on Schulhoff’s joyful, intensely rhythmical opening Presto just right, they took its con fuoco description to set off with appropriately blazing energy and brilliant technical prowess.

Shifting between this sort of vigorous playing and the much more quietly lyrical musical language found elsewhere in the piece, the Pavel Haas are a tightly bound foursome who produce a homogenous, confidently assertive sound.
It is a style which also sits well with Shostakovich’s String Quartet No 10.

Pulsating, jagged vitality contrasted with the radiant beauty of solo cello weaving its third movement melody with the violins in hushed duet above.

Brahms’ substantial A minor String Quartet Op 51 No 2 is a different sort of affair. Not such a good fit for the Pavel Haas players, the restraint they brought to it needed loosening up to bring fuller flowering of tone. Not so for the encore, the final movement of Dvorák’s American quartet, a piece from home that is clearly dear to their hearts.

Originally published in The Scotsman

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