Music review: Belmonte Quartet
Edinburgh International Festival Scotsman review: Belmonte Quartet at The Hub, reviewed by Christopher Lambton
IN the unforgiving acoustics of The Hub Café, the Belmonte Quartet from Austria struggled to make sense of Mendelssohn’s String Quartet No 4 in E minor. The composer’s characteristically fluid style requires a firm sense of structure from the outset. In the event, these four young players from the Universität Mozarteum in Salzburg were so busy playing the notes that they failed to listen to the music. Tuning and ensemble slipped as they raced on helter-skelter. Even in movements marked allegro di molto and presto agitato there should be time to breathe.
With a rumbling noise like a car ferry emanating from the bar counter at one end of the room, it began to feel as though we were in for an uncomfortable voyage. But then everything changed.
The Mendelssohn was followed, after a much-needed pause for tuning, by Schubert’s D minor quartet Death and the Maiden. This is a much better-known piece, and they knew it much better too. First violin Clemens Flieder swapped places with his No 2, Johanna Zaunschirm, who brought to the ensemble a clear sense of direction, conducting her colleagues with eyes, head, and bold sweeps of the bow. The rumbling in the background (a vending machine apparently) was forgotten, as Schubert’s masterpiece swept to its intense, yet playful, conclusion.
Originally published in The Scotsman