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Review: Pavel Haas Quartet at Birmingham Town Hall

Elmley de la Cour reviews the Pavel Haas Quartet at Birmingham Town Hall.

Pavel Haas Quartet at Birmingham Town Hall
Pavel Haas Quartet
Pavel Haas Quartet

Leadership gurus often advise you to speak softly. Doing so commands attention and requires concentration on the part of your audience.

It would appear Prague’s Pavel Haas String Quartet have benefited from similar advice. Throughout the four movements of Haydn’s String Quartet No. 64 a stylish, restrained dynamic produced a performance which bristled with focused intensity.

They are a fine ensemble. The balance between the four musicians was superlative and their phrasing, heartfelt and sensitive throughout, was a joy to behold. At first violin Veronika Jaruskova is a refreshing presence, her playing bright and lyrical but unaffected, lending the group a relaxed, everyday ease.

Dvorak’s String Quartet No. 10, which followed, wasn’t quite so satisfying. It is a strange work, one of constant activity yet lacking in direction. Named ‘Slavonik’, however, it afforded the opportunity for some tender renditions of Czech idioms, Peter Jarusek’s thrummed cello accompaniment in the second movement one notably evocative example.

Concluding the programme, Brahms’s String Quartet in A minor produced yet more highly refined playing, the group’s warm sound and delicate placing in the Andante being a particular delight.

Pavel Haas return on May 4 with pianist Denis Kozhukin and, on this evidence, it is recommended.


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