Jerusalem Quartet delights Newcastle

Internationally acclaimed chamber music string ensemble  the Jerusalem Quartet made a welcome return to Newcastle on Thursday, September 23.

It is the seventh time this evergreen Israeli outfit have toured Australia and the 21st year the group have been playing.

Coming together as teens at the behest of Jerusalem Music Centre, the Jerusalem Quartet have gone on to become an enduring favourite on the international touring scene, performing extensively throughout the US and Europe each year.

But age has by no means wearied these still young men and the chemistry has endured, with only one change to the line-up in over two decades - violist Ori Kam, replacing Amihai Grosz who left to become principal with the Berlin Philharmonic in 2010. 

The rest of the  team, made up of Alexander Pavlovsky and Sergei Bresler, violins, and Kyril Zlotnikov on cello, have continued  their “endless” chamber music journey of discovery, meshing and maturing as musicians.

Famed for the warmth, depth and unity of performance they bring to masterworks, the Newcastle  audience was treated to Program 2 featuring pieces by  Haydn’s (the much-loved ‘Lark’ Quartet), Australian composer Ross Edwards’ String Quartet no 3, Summer Dances, and the first of Beethoven’s 'Razumovsky’ Quartets.

Precision and feel were apparent from the first notes as the team effortlessly locked into unlocking the Haydn’s composition, described as ‘A story, a song, a dance, and a party’. 

Constructed with variations of speed, complexity and emotion, the music requires great technicality which the Jerusalem Quartet so beautifully disguise as they engage in a singular quest to bring each section  alive.

Musica Viva stipulates that each international performer on their touring lists  perform an Australian work, and Edwards, one of Australia’s best known composers, was a perfect fit, contrasting nicely to the Haydn work, yet linking in thematically with  earthy, nature-infused, folk references,  evocative in places of the quartet’s Mediterranean influences.

Edwards is no stranger to the quartet, who have performed and collaborated on his pieces several times over the years. The quartet’s respect was evident in discussions with the audience after the show.

The final piece by Beethoven was in all respects amazing. Forty minutes of brilliantly concieved genius requiring the utmost virtuosity to sustain, truly progressive in places and utterly mesmerising to behold.

After rousing applause the foursome were coaxed back on stage to pluck out a bit of Bartok, playful and reflective of the warm temperament these engaging individuals bring to their craft, and yet, as with all their pieces, a performance challenge in its own right.

A thoroughly enjoyable night of world class chamber music topped off with a post gig chat with the band, who lauded the magnificent manner in which Musica Viva looks after its touring artists, and  Australia as a wonderful, distant destination that enables them to really get in touch with their music.

The Jerusalem Quartet, having played capital cities across the country over the last two weeks, will perform two more shows on this current tour, in Sydney on Friday, September 24 and Melbourne on September 27. 

The next Musica Viva performance in Newcastle, on October 13, will see two exciting young stars – Benjamin Beilman on violin and Andrew Tyson on piano –  perform works by Mozart, Janacek, Stanley and Saint-Salens.

The Newcastle Jerusalem Quartet performance was also a platform for Musical Viva to unveil  its international touring line-up for the 2017 concert series, and the bubbly flowed freely in anticipation of yet another intoxicating year of music ahead.

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Touring 3-25 October
In one of the most exciting classical music debuts of the year, two brilliant young stars make their first recital tour of Australia performing Mozart, Saint-Saëns, Janácek and a world premiere by Jane Stanley.

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