VIAF 2019

Peak after Peak of Excellence

Time after time, as I follow events during the current (22nd) Festival in Gozo, I keep musing whether it is possible after an event when a certain peak of excellence has been reached, for it to be surpassed. Yet come the next event and the end result is that it had been surpasssed by another exciting event.

Such was the case yesterday evening when the Paris-based Urban String Quartet performed at the church of St. Francis of Assisi. The quartet consists of Virgin is Dupont-Demailly and Julie Oddou (violins), David Vainsot (viola) and Natacha Colmez-Collard (violoncello). The four musicians are on the younger side, yet widely experienced and well-established. They proved their mettle via their choice of programme: two very different quartets, viz. Mendelssohn’s n. 2 in A Minor op.13 and the great, pioneering, unique one by Grieg in G Minor op. 27.

As the violinists in a string quartet somstimes do, they exchanged positons with Virginie Dupont-Demailly leading in the Mendelssohn and Julie Oddou in the Grieg. At various points the A minor quartet by Mendelssohn owes a lot to Beethoven. There is of course a more personal touch in the Intermezzo. There is also very admirable craftsmanship especially in the way thematic unity runs through the work. The end feeling was one of warmth and brilliance.

The Grieg Quartet is a different kettle of fish. Robust, quite monumental, nigh orchestral, joyful and dance-like, vibrantly exciting. It was a great performance which will echo for long.

Albert George Storace