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Outstanding Quartet Concert

Cowal Music Club’s concert in Dunoon’s Burgh Hall last Sunday featured the outstanding Salome String Quartet, Haim Choi & Coco Inman (violins), Kasia Ziminska (viola), and Shizuku Tatsono (cello),  and attracted a large audience, who were manifestly enthralled by their playing.   It was already clear that this young Quartet were of an enviable pedigree, as winners of the UK 2023 Tunnell Trust award, and within the first few moments of the recital, it was obvious that the quality of playing was indeed exceptional.

All four players showed a marvellous combination of technical assurance, beauty of sound, great sensitivity, and remarkable passion and commitment, which translated into highly impressive and meaningful performances of all the works in the programme.  Tempi, balance, ensemble, and dynamics were all handled superbly, as were the various solos which each player had to deliver, and the quartet played with remarkable confidence throughout. 

The programme itself was especially interesting, including (as the first piece) a memorably expressive quartet movement by Fanny Mendelssohn, - sibling of the famous Felix Mendelssohn, whose A minor Quartet op 13 followed. This is a Romantic work with some fast and intricate sections which sounded at times quite breathtaking, while the expressive passages were simply beautiful.

After the break, the quartet performed the Russian composer Shostakovitch’s String Quartet no 3 in F, which, as was mentioned in the comprehensive introduction by Kasia Ziminska, was written at a difficult time for the composer, when the Russian dictator, Stalin, was in power.  Intriguingly, it was written in 1946 at the end of World War 2, and is in 5 movements with thought-provoking titles, such as Awareness, Rumblings of Unrest, War unleashed, Hommage to the dead, and Eternal Questions (why? and ‘for what?).

This challenging work can really only be attempted by professional players, and the performance which followed displayed very directly all the high drama, different moods, virtuosity, and expression demanded. Everything, from saltando bowing to harmonics and sparse textures sounded totally under control – quite a technical, as well as musical, feat.

The afternoon’s concert was exhilarating and superb, as was demonstrated at the end by the enthusiastic and sustained applause from the audience.

 Watch out for this young, highly talented quartet in the future – they appear to have got off to a very impressive start!


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