Classical Music Buzz > Musica Viva Australia Blog > St Lawrence String Quartet & Dia...

Steve Moffatt, Northern District Times
17 April 2012

Oboist Diana Doherty is one of the most passionate and demonstrative performers on the Sydney classical music scene, so when she teamed up with the stellar Canadian St Lawrence string quartet and its co-frontman Geoff Nuttall it was pretty likely there would be musical fireworks.

They came in the final work on the program, Matthew Hindson’s Rush, which was originally written for guitar and string quartet but which Hindson adapted for Doherty in 2002.

The rhythmic intensity of Hindson’s techno-inspired work was underlined by Doherty’s crouching and swaying and Nuttall’s stamping and flying hair as the 10-minute work built to a furious finale.

Earlier Doherty showed that few can match the sweetness and clarity of her playing with an enchanting performance of Mozart’s oboe quartet. Scott St John took the violin part, aided by violist Lesley Robertson and cellist Christopher Constanza.

The Canadian ensemble, now based in California, first impressed Musica Viva when they won a competition in Melbourne 21 years ago. The quartet has gone on to become not only a strong international force in its own right but a mentor to a new generation of musicians.

Their performances are characterised by passionate attack and derring-do coupled with an extraordinary delicacy when needed.

This latter quality was evident in Haydn’s unusually sombre Op 20 No.5 quartet, with its precise pauses in the minuet movement and the quiet adagio.

For its more sunny intervals Nuttall’s restless stage presence was a feature.

St John led the quartet for Beethoven’s Op 18 No.4 – a tight and perfectly paced performance – and for the other work on the program, Gordon Kerry’s Elegy for string quartet, composed in 2007 to commemorate his mother.

Kerry is Musica Viva’s featured composer for the 2012 season and this work skilfully balances the feelings of anger and sorrow that grief brings.

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