VIAF 2019

Martinů Quartet conquer a spellbound audience

The Martinů Quartet returned to the VIAF, a most welcome event to which many looked forward to with great anticipation. They did not fail to impress thanks to the very exciting performance they gave.

There seems to be a highly consistent level of achievement and quality with every edition of the VIAF. This year’s is no exception and continues in a well-established tradition.

The Martinů String Quartet consists of Lubomir Hávlak and Libor Kanka (violins), Zbynek Padourek (viola)and Jitka Vlašánková. They performed one of Janaček’s best-known chamber works: the String Quartet n.1,”Kreutzer Sonata”. At many points the vigorous, highly assertive playing reflected the work’s programme and the many moods and emotions within it. The recurring tempo indications marked con moto was a unifying thread and acerbic dissonance here and there continued projecting sensations of despair and tragedy. A great if not happy work.

For Dvořák’s very mature String Quintet in E flat Major Op. 97, the Quartet were joined by Pierre Henri Xuereb as guest viola. No newcomer to the VIAF, he joined in to form the classic string quintet formation. He threw himself with zest. and energy matching that of his Czech colleagues. The mood in this quintet is generally bright and sunny, replete with rhythms and colour firmly rooted in Czech folk music and not without a touch of nostalgia in the larghetto. The quintet played with great heart to and for the audience and many a time when a warm passage for one viola came along Zbynek Padourek played more than half-facing the audience, sealing an already extant rapport. The quintet was to conclude in a glorious feast of infectiously colourful energetic movement.

Albert George Storace