Q&A with Irina Morozova, Goldner String Quartet

Irina Morozova

How did you all end up playing together?

The four of us were already in the Australia Ensemble resident at the University of New South Wales. We weren’t there as a string quartet, we were there as four string players within a mixed ensemble. We all got along very well, and our musical ideas meshed, and we enjoyed playing together.

Some people had asked us along the way “why don’t you four players play as a string quartet”? We’d heard so many horror stories about people who had had shocking times – couples or people with relationships breaking up – so I was never very keen. Ken Tribe finally suggested to us it’s a good idea: “you’ve played enough string quartets to know whether you like it or you don’t like it. So it’s probably a good idea to make the leap of faith and call yourselves something and start working like a quartet, rather than some string players who occasionally play quartets”. And so we thought “Oh well, we’ll give it a go”!

How are string quartets different from other ensembles?

String quartet playing really is the pinnacle of music-making in western music. Composers write the best, most personal, soul-searching music for string quartet. Its like a pure essence – you have four voices all joining to make something wonderful. And playing in a string quartet is a very different animal, you have to rehearse differently. You have to spend a lot of time doing stuff that you wouldn’t do with a mixed ensemble.

Tell us about your viola.

I play a modern instrument made my Arthur E. Smith in 1947 who was probably Australia’s finest instrument maker, definitely his violas are superb and I’m very lucky that I’ve got one that was lent to me, for the duration of my career, by my late teacher, Richard Goldner who also founded Musica Viva.

With cellists and violinists you have more chance of getting a terrific old instrument. For violists, there are less old instruments that are good that have made it intact. So there’s actually a lot of professional violists who play modern instruments.

There are two married couples in the group. Is it difficult to balance professional relationships and personal ones?

I’ve never thought of a quartet in terms of a relationship, but yes you have passion and you have good times and you have give and take, and you have disputes and you have reconciliations and you have everything. It works pretty well. But you’ve got to know how to put a point forcefully without treading on everybody’s toes or make a point without hurting anybody’s feelings.


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