Venue, The Playhouse, Vancouver, British Columbia. Date March 25th. 2008
Programme:- String Quartet in F major by Maurice Ravel, String Quartet No.3 by Szymon Laks, Nocturne and Tarantella Opus 28 by Karel Szymanowski, String Quartet in G, Opus 18, No. 2 by Ludwig van Beethoven.
I don’t want to turn into a music critic but I felt someone should write about what was a truly inspiring concert. The players, all Polish, are fairly young and very enthusiastic. Every piece they played was with a joie de vivre, the ensemble was excellent and their sound was gorgeous.
The Ravel is now an old war-horse but they brought a freshness to it that I had rarely heard before.
Szymon Laks Quartet, based on Polish themes, came off very well. It is very melodic, and Laks, having been a violinist himself uses all the tricks of the trade that stringed instruments are capable of – the ponticello (playing next to the bridge, making a grating sound) in the first movement, the glissando (sliding) at the end of the second movement, the non-vibrato sounds played by those supporting the solo, the fierce pizzicati (plucking) and then the full, rich vibrato sound of the ensemble. All in all a very enjoyable, tuneful piece to listen to.
I had qualms about the Szymanowski, not being a particular fan of his music, but it had snatches of Gypsy music and perhaps (to my ears) a hint of a fandango. Two pieces, very easy on the ear and played well.
The Beethoven was exquisitely played throughout. Of course, it’s not for me to say, but it went through my mind that this may be the real Beethoven as he would have wished to hear it. The attack was good, the style lovely and the players obviously enjoyed playing it. It is not often that I come away from a concert feeling elated, but the Szymanowski Quartet had that effect on me. I never looked at my watch once!