Goldner String Quartet in the UK
Our friends the Goldner String Quartet have recently returned from successful concerts and recording sessions in the UK. We share some of the responses with you in the lead up to their national tour with Ian Munro.
The Guardian, London
Monday 11 July 2011
It’s always thrilling to discover that performers you have admired on disc seem even more impressive when you eventually get to hear them live. The recordings by the Sydney-based Goldner Quartet of works by Peter Sculthorpe and most recently by Elgar had suggested that this was a group of the highest international class; their playing in the second of two City of London festival appearances, in which not a note was out of place or out of tune and not a gesture misjudged, confirmed that completely.
Following the theme of this year’s festival, contemporary Australian works, both premiered last year, made up half of the Goldners’ programme. Sculthorpe’s 18th Quartet was receiving its first London performance. Like so much of his music, it’s embedded in Australian natural history. This time, he depicts a land being destroyed by drought and global warming, yet one in which the birds continue to sing; it’s sombrely reflective and elegiac, with just a glimmer of optimism in the final movement. Birds and insects contribute to the soundworld of Ross Edward’s Second Quartet, too, though they are contained within a musical world that is far less well characterised than Sculthorpe’s; passages in Edwards’s overlong work recall Finzi or Tippett, as though trying to invent some Australian pastoral world.
The Goldners played both works with the same warmth and transparency they had given to the quartets by Elgar – a wonderfully supple affair, full of airy textures and eloquently detailed inner voices – and Ravel, colours freshly minted, rhythms dashingly precise. All of it was quartet-playing of the rarest quality.