Goldner String Quartet & Ian Munro reviewed in the Sydney Morning Herald

Piano remains the pathfinder to a fascinating new world
Harriet Cunningham, August 24, 2011
Sydney Morning Herald

Ian Munro

IAN MUNRO appeared on the Australian composing scene as if by magic. One minute he was a highly respected concert pianist and core member of the Australia Ensemble. Next he was the winner of an international composing competition. Now he is this year’s featured composer with Musica Viva and is touring with the Goldner String Quartet, performing his new piano quintet, commissioned by Julian Burnside.

Munro’s work has, until now, embraced a host of musical echoes. It is perhaps inevitable for someone who has spent a life immersed in music. In this work, however, an iteration of his award-winning piano concerto and his orchestral work Drought and Night Rain, he echoes and amplifies his own work. The quintet’s confident performance revealed a fascinating sound world, which tussled with counterpoint and brooded over low pedal notes. The piano remained the pathfinder, testing out new sonorities until, in a brilliant climax, the strings put down their instruments and took up little frog guiros, croaking to welcome the rain.

Munro was back after an interval, this time to join his colleagues for a performance of Dvorak’s Piano Quintet in A major, Op 81. With music and musicians all old friends, the opening to the Allegro felt like a warm bath, but as the notes multiplied and the scoring thickened the strings lost some of their finesse, with clarity sacrificed to raw excitement. The Scherzo was where the ensemble really shone, with first violin and piano matching each other’s lucid tone perfectly.

A solid performance of Beethoven’s String Quartet no 10 in E flat major,Op 74, the ‘Harp’, completed this substantial program. This repertoire is the Quartet’s heartland, and they played it very well indeed, soaring through the euphoric coda of the first movement.

Finally, the quintet rewarded the audience’s applause with an earlier sample of Munro’s writing, a whimsical vignette from his first piano quintet.

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Welcome to Musica Viva’s International Concert Season blog. Here you can follow and read more about our wonderful touring artists.

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