The programme changes every day at the Queen's Hall during the International Festival period, but all concerts involve chamber music with soloists, duos, trios, quartets and quintets.
This concert was with the Berlin-based Artemis Quartet who were founded in 1989. Vineta Sareika is principal violinist; Gregor Sigi is second violinist; Friedemann Weigle is the viola player and Eckart Runge is the cellist. As an ensemble they create an astonishing sound and with this good choice of programme we were able to hear the profundity of their talents.
The two violinists and viola player performed standing throughout and the quartet began their concert with Mozart’s String Quartet in G Major. Nicknamed the ‘spring’ quartet, it is part of a set of six quartets in homage to Haydn. The musicians were in perfect balance, playing with such precision, and in the third movement they imparted a beautiful, soulful sound.
By contrast, the next piece was modern: Bartok’s String Quartet no. 3 (the Hungarian composer only wrote six quartets). Full of discordant passages it elicited the talent of this quartet, particularly in the pizzicato bars where they were in perfect sync.
The last composition on the programme was Schubert’s String Quartet in D minor. Known as ‘Death and the Maiden’ Schubert wrote this when he knew he was dying.
The musicians were into their full stride in the first movement, when a string in the principal violinist’s violin broke. They left the stage, and after a while returned and began the piece all over again. Then at the end of this movement they stopped and tuned their instruments. They did this again after the second movement! It was distracting, but they regained their pace and concluded the piece brilliantly, with flawless playing.