Review: Elias Quartet at St Georges by Helen Reid 9/10
A PROGRAMME of three Beethoven Quartets is hard work, though you would never guess it, hearing this outstanding quartet tackle them. For Beethoven was re-shaping the form of the quartet into the future in a way that would have shocked and intrigued Haydn and Mozart, who more or less invented it.
We began with an early work, the OP. 18 no. 3, with rich textures and spacious themes, a twinkling Presto and a dancing finale.
The middle period Quartet, Op. 95 is like a glimpse of Beethoven's mind, a highly serious work, much more intense and challenging and again the Elias made light of the difficulties.
The real mountain to climb was the last one he wrote, the Op. 130, a deeply introspective work with a sublime Cavatina, composed when Beethoven was totally deaf. He could only hear the music in his mind's ear.
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It is a tribute to the power and assurance of the Elias's mastery that no-one in the audience coughed once during the three performances – a rare occurrence at St. George's.
Their playing is richly integrated, beautifully phrased, surefooted in interpretation, so it is no surprise that they are in demand all over the world.
What's their secret, apart from their superb musicianship?
It could be that the ensemble is formed by two couples, of whom the wives are sisters.
No wonder they are all of one musical mind.