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The Strad

Concert review: Jerusalem Quartet

Bruce Hodges the performance of Haydn, Brahms and Shostakovich at New York’s 92NY on 16 April 2024

By Bruce Hodges

As a friend who adores string quartets has repeatedly said, Haydn quartets require a high degree of precision in intonation, and in the Quartet in E flat major op.76 no.6, the Jerusalem Quartet proved her thesis correct. Particularly in the skeletally exposed upper registers, the ensemble’s deft reading showed skill and judgement, as the foursome sent the ticklish passages flying into the ether. But the group’s tuning expertise also appeared in the richly resonant chords that came in between. The final movement, taken at a torrential pace, only cemented the delight that resulted from the high-wire acrobatics.

For Brahms’s Third Quartet the group relaxed into a more luxurious richness, with violist Ori Kam on particularly fine form in the slow movement as his colleagues deferred to him in muted splendour. In contrast to the sparkle of the Haydn, the foursome opted for a juicier, plusher approach that made perfect sense.

When considering Shostakovich’s quartets, no.2 is rife with quietude, as well as being the longest of the 15, except for the last one. Yes, forceful bow strokes rained down and the composer’s dissonances registered with piercing accuracy, but the overall sense was more genial and gentle than usual. We love the Shostakovich that stings, but we also love the one that finds profundity in peacefulness and grace.

The Jerusalem Quartet. Photo: courtesy 92NY

June 19, 2024

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