The Jerusalem Quartet is one of the most remarkable of the new crop of excellent young string quartets. They have been described by the BBC as almost perfect and by The Times as young superstars. Founded in 1993, the group’s average age is 25 and they have already played to great acclaim with some of the world’s leading musicians in the best of the world’s concert halls. Normally I would be a little sceptical of such publicity but these guys have the CDs to prove it.
Their first CD on the EMI Debut series of Shostakovich and Tchaikovsky is a tribute to their beautiful tone and their thoughtful yet agile ensemble playing. Each instrumentalist plays with great individual clarity and determination, yet they are in perfect synch, responding to each other magnificently.
They also bring out the unique blend of sweetness and acrid nostalgia in Tchaikovsky’s Quartet No 1. Their metrical choices are astute, they move easily from carefully crafted slow segments to lively dynamic playing, which burns with youthful intensity, but at neither end of this spectrum do they overplay their choices. Then there is a question of tone. Simply put, it is delicious. And perhaps especially so when it is pungent.
This sweetness of tone is even more evident in their selection of Haydn quartets just released by Harmonia Mundi. From the first deep notes of the cello and then the heartbreaking sweetness of lead violinist Alexander Pavlovsky’s intonation of the main theme of the Lark quartet, it is clear that this is an outstanding recording.
And it keeps getting better. The concluding vivace movement is dazzling.
The Jerusalem Quartet will be playing two Sydney concerts for Musica Viva next month and their program of Shostakovich, Beethoven and Rachmaninov ought to give local audiences an exciting taste of their wide-ranging musicianship. At a recent New Zealand concert with a very similar program, they also treated the audience to an encore of Haydn -“ we can hope they do the same here.
Info Jerusalem Quartet plays at City Recital Hall, Angel Place, Saturday 8 May at 8pm and Monday 10 May at 7pm. Bookings: 1800 688 482.