Kuss Quartet & Naoko Shimizu reviewed in The Age
Quartet shows its inherent class
Martin Duffy, The Age
September 20, 2012
Berlin-based Kuss Quartet has performed to acclaim in many of the major concert halls. The quartet also appears in less conventional venues, such as nightclubs, where it has gained an equally enthusiastic audience for innovative performances. Frequent collaborators, in this debut tour for Musica Viva the quartet is joined by principal viola of the Berlin Philharmonic, Naoko Shimizu.
The extraordinary musicianship of these performers was evident in this diverse program featuring contemporary and traditional repertoire that began with a newly commissioned string quintet from Gordon Kerry.
In one movement, but in five distinct alternating slow-fast sections, this accessible work features long melodic lines, dramatic dynamic surges and varied bowing effects. With the upper strings often working in pairs, the cello is thrown into relief making use of ethereal harmonics.
Some very refined Czech peasantry was on display with Smetana’s String Quartet No. 2 in D minor, including a beautiful coda to end the second movement.
The quartet’s cohesive physical performance style supports rather than distracts from the musical intent.
Its unique insight brought sense to Officium Breve in Memoriam Andreae Szervanszky, Opus 28 by Hungarian Gyorgy Kurtag – 15 miniature movements of carefully considered musical ideas and gestures where use of space between the musical motifs, the decay of sound and the intensity of the intervening silence often seems as important as the preceding notes.
Mozart’s String Quintet No. 3 in C major featured strong solo performances, exquisite internal dialogues and highly considered phrasing that produced a fabulously nuanced reading.