28 October 2012
A very well designed programme which showed the richness and diversity of the genre. Opening with Boccherini’s String Quartet Op 32 No 5, ENSO immediately impressed with exquisitely balanced and weighted phrases, where the clarity of voices was defined. The cheerful Allegro comodo exemplified the classical style. The Minuetto con moto was a charming foil for the joyful Allegro giusto that followed containing a Capriccio ad libitum, which displayed captivating virtuosity.
Ginastera’s String Quartet No 1 Op 20, the opening Allegro violente ed agitato was full of rhythmic vitality infused with a sense of urgency. The dance element very noticeable in the folk influenced Vivacissimo was packed with energy. The rustic and dramatic syncopated dance motifs in the Allegramente were forcefully portrayed.
The single movement work by Gillian Whitehead No stars, not even clouds… was a cameo for the string quartet which captured the essential ingredients in a unique way. The work unconsciously drew from the sound of the Korimako to great effect and what pleased was that ENSO appeared to realise the uniquely Kiwi colours and hues that inspired Whitehead.
In Dvořák’s Piano Quintet Op 81 ENSO were joined by Michael Endres. The string phrases were beautifully shaped with attendant nuances that showed a deep understanding of this repertoire.
In the Allegro ma non tanto the ebb and flow of the melodic content and the accompanying mood were enhanced. The melancholic mood of the Dumka: Andante con moto was magically captured by Stephanie Fong with a rich, dark chocolate velvety hue being satiatingly sumptuous and the singing qualities were matched by the other strings. The Scherzo was charmingly animated while the Finale: Allegro was full of energy and passion. The concern was the colours achieved by the quartet were not matched by the piano. The piano balance was inconsistent, the colours often opaque when transparency was required and heavy when lightness should have prevailed; it was good, although still enjoyable but it could have been great.