Edinburgh International Festival music review: Zehetmair Quartet, reviewed by The Scotsman’s David Kettle.
The Zehetmair Quartet gave one of the International Festival’s freshest, most bracing recitals so far, with each musical gesture – and there were plenty of flamboyant ones – seeming to come from an inner impulse, as though the music simply had to be like that.
But even more remarkable in the foursome’s exceptional Queen’s Hall concert was the way they used sound and colour as expressive weapons, to drive their music forward and explain its sometimes convoluted forms with intense power.
So in their opener – the melodious but slight early Haydn Quartet Op 3 No 5 (now doubted even to be by him) – it meant a fluid, flexible melody from leader Thomas Zehetmair, almost as if he was speaking against a gently pulsing pizzicato accompaniment.
And in their closer – a compelling Haydn Emperor Quartet, from the other end of his career – it meant a disarming simplicity and directness to the famous second movement’s touching variations.
They grabbed the attention, though, with the raw power of their Hindemith Fifth Quartet, from rasping opening chords through to a hushed, faltering, almost out-of-focus second movement.
It was a hugely thoughtful account, each phrase weighed for its meaning, but sincere, spontaneous and never calculated. Thrilling from beginning to end.
Published in The Scotsman on 28 August 2015
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