The chamber music society’s contacts with Rikskonserter gives interesting possibilities for unusual performances, as in last Monday when Canadian Quatuor Bozzini perfomed in Alfven-salen. The name of the group is taken from the last names of the musicians in the two lower voices, violist Stephanie and cellist Isabelle. The two violinists are Nadia Francavilla and Clemens Merkels, who took turns playing the first violin part.
Among Canadian composers Claude Vivier holds a prominent place and the quartet had chosen to begin its concert with Pulau Dewata, inspired by native Balinese music. The title translates as “The Island of the Gods”, and it was quite possible to imagine how it could sound on the island, even though the instrumentation would most likely be completely different. Changing rhythms, accents, viola and cello in octaves with violins as birdsong, and finally a traditional signature which the composer, according to the program, wished to present to the people of Bali. We happily accept the offer of such a fine example of Canadian art music.
The next piece, an unfinished string quartet by Franz Schubert, was a huge contrast to the first. It has been touted as a precursor to later masterworks, and shows clear indication of the melodic charm which we recognize from the music of Schubert. Nadia, playing first violin in this work, was maybe unnecessarily discreet in her role.
The ensemble playing continued to be excellent.
Last year the 100th anniversary of the birth of Dmitri Schostakovitch was celebrated all over the musical world. That the year has come and gone does of course not mean that his works won’t be performed any more. The quartet had chosen his 11th string quartet, in f minor — a seven movement work which provided ample opportunities for impressive ensemble playing and exciting sonorities. The composer switches between elegiac moments and rather merry ones, all performed in changing constellations, keeping the listener engaged in the music.
Finally yet another of the masterworks of the quartet repertoire, Johannes Brahms’ Quartet in B Flat Major opus 67, written in 1875. Despite the fact that the year had seen much music of newer styles, Brahms stays in an almost classical expression. Here is the romantic side, the melodic as in the second movement’s hymnal character, or the carnival mood of the third movement. In this movement the quartet succeeded remarkably well in bringing out the transparency of sound and to let the melodic material move freely between the four voices. The variations in the final movement included a beautiful section with the two violins playing legato against the lower string pizzicatos, all leading towards a powerful ending. Warm applause will follow the musicians on their eight concerts tour.