REVIEW: Behn Quartet make presence felt on city stage

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Behn Quartet, Chamber Music New Zealand at the Globe Theatre, Palmerston North, Friday April 20. Reviewed by Stephen Fisher.

The Behn Quartet brought together four musicians who were studying at the Royal Academy in 2015.

Since then, they have quickly created a notable presence on the international scene. The players include a New Zealander, Kate Oswin, who is on the violin with Alicia Berendse, Lydia Abell, on the viola and Ghislaine McMullin, the cello.

Their programme was bookended by two much-loved works, Dvorak's popular American Quartet and Ravel's String Quartet, while a New Zealand quartet, Jack Body's Three Transcriptions, completed the programme.

This was indeed an attractive and appealing programme for both performers and audience. The quartet themselves seemed comfortable with their music as they fully explored the expressive qualities of each work, performing each with a pleasing sense of ensemble.

Body's work reflects his deep love of music as it appears in varying cultures, the hypnotic first movement influenced by the Chinese Jews harp, the second reflecting the music of Madagscar and the zither, and the third an exciting Bulgarian dance. This work was given a fully committed, engaging performance that fired the audience's imagination.

However, it was, perhaps, Ravel's F Major Quartet that was given the most captivating performance of the evening. From its glorious opening, to the luscious delicate pianissimo passages and its captivating finale, this was a performance that left the audience silently spellbound for several seconds before bursting into enthusiastic applause, recognising the magic cast throughout the auditorium by this talented quartet.

Review by Stephen Fisher. Original article published on Stuff.