VIAF 2013

The Argotti Quartet in great form!

Yesterday evening, the Argotti Quartet, comprised of Maria Conrad and Nemanja Ljubinkovic (violin), Jose Garcia Gutierrez (horn) and Philip Walsh (pianoforte), gave a wonderful performance of works by Telemann, Duvernoy, Kotek, Vella and Shostakovich.

This was yet another ensemble that pitted together a rare combination of instruments, but one that blended extremely well in works that are rarely heard on the islands. Starting off with one of Telemann’s Duo Sonatas, Maria and Nemanja were in perfect sync, commanding superb intonation, elegant phrasing and the perfect dose of intensity as far as dynamics were concerned. This work was followed by F Duvernoy’s Trio Sonata for Horn, Violin and Pianoforte. Here, Jose Gutierrez delighted the audience with his wonderful tone, one that is fully rounded flexible and even, at both ends of the tonal spectrum. Kotek’s Morceaux Caractéristiques op. 5 is a work that explores various styles and largely alternates fast, robust movements with slower, lyrical ones. Maria and Nemanja, accompanied with the utmost sensitivity by Philip Walsh, displayed masterful control of the demands the work makes, both musically and technically, and managed to sustain the interest in a piece that was certainly the longest on the programme.

Joseph Vella’s Trio Concertante op. 7 is a very early work by the composer, one that attests to his youthful zest but also one that betrays the maturity that was to come with his later works. The rapport between the Violin (played by Maria Conrad), Horn and Pianoforte was admirably balanced, one that was sustained through the three different moods that characterize the piece. Special mention goes to the slower second section, one that develops on a sequence of chordal structures on the pianoforte over which the Horn and the Violin play a melody not unlike that which one associates with a chorale.

Shostakovich’s brilliant Five Pieces for Two Violins and Pianoforte brought this delightful performance to a resounding close, after which the audience was regaled with an encore that brought the four musicians together. This was a performance that will be remembered for its sensitivity, musicality and polish.