29 October 2012
The Enso String Quartet started its days at Yale in the late 1990s, and, if this concert is any indication, it has some distinguished playing ahead of it. Not that this was a perfect concert; some of the playing was a touch vague, and, in the Dvorak Piano quintet, somewhat unresolved. But at their best, these players are marvellously impressive. The String Quartet No 1 by Alberto Ginastera produced some scintillating playing. And the work itself is a real discovery, full of bracing rhythms of the Pampas in the outer movements and a haunting spare beauty in the central slow movement. Clearly, this was the work on the programme they knew best, and it was played with dazzle.
The opening Boccherini G Minor String Quartet failed to inspire anything other than a generalised competence in the playing.
Gillian Whitehead’s No Stars not even clouds was commissioned for the Enso Quartet by Chamber Music NZ, and is proved a lovely, sinuous, deeply felt piece, inspired by memories of a friend.
Joined by the distinguished German pianist Michael Endres, who teaches at Canterbury University, the quartet promised much in Dvorak’s Piano Quintet and, in part, they delivered. But the openings of both the first and last movements were ill balanced and rhythms a little muddled. Still, the slow movement was lovely and the scherzo was done with real verve. With the Ginastera a real highlight, this remained an enjoyable concert.