The Wihan Quartet imposed a quiet control

Wihan Quartet

The Wihan Quartet imposed a quiet control

… Beethoven’s Cavatina is highly charged with emotion – Beethoven himself was reportedly moved to tears by its beauty and profundity – and the Wihan employed a wide, prominent vibrato, creating and intensity which sustained the extended phrases, but which was always tinged with tenderness.

“As he rose up the D string, Leoš Čepický’s warm sound projected sweetly: the falling fifth of the theme sighed soothingly and was immediately echoed, as if in consolation, by the cello.  In the central section, the lower strings’ triplets injected fresh pulse and Čepický’s melody was more isolated against the drier accompaniment. In the closing moments, Kaňka’s C string had a lovely grainy quality, as if striving for the ‘essence’ of something intangible but profound.”

… The Wihan produced a wonderfully light sound [in Mika Haasler’s A Fugue for Pamela], so that the fugue texture remained transparent and we could appreciate the wealth of musical idea and the very attractive sonorities and harmonies.

… Kaňka’s rocking, arpeggiac cello part [in Cecilia McDowall’s To A Nightingale] returned repeatedly to the same harmonic centre and provided a powerful gravitational force for the shimmer of the first violin’s tremolando beside Jan Schulmeister’s high melody. Delicately nuanced harmonic explorations evoked a pastoral peace complemented by the sheen and lucidity of Leoš Čepický’s soaring song.

The Wihan Quartet shaped the bare octaves which open Freya Waley-Cohen’s Vitae most eloquently, before the unity fragmented into alert pizzicato gestures for the middle voices and snatches and motifs that resulted in ever-changing combinations and colours.  The juxtaposition of the cello’s lower reaches and violin harmonics was eerie, but as Čepický’s violin melody climbed higher it pulled all the other players with it, their floating harmonics suggesting a release, heavenwards.

… As the woeful theme [of William Zinn’s Kol Nidrei Memorial] pulled the heartstrings the Wihan Quartet imposed a quiet control on the emotive unfolding, and the prevailing sentiment seemed to me to be not one of mourning but of hopefulness.

The Concert:

Wihan Quartet
Remembering Pamela Majaro
Wigmore Hall, London
27th September 2017

Beethoven String Quartet in Bb Op.130, Cavatina: Adagio molto espressivo
Cheryl Frances-Hoad Invocatio (world premiere)
Mika Haasler A Fugue for Pamela (world premiere)
Cecilia McDowall To a Nightingale (world premiere)
Roxanna Panufnik Votive (world premiere)
Freya Waley-Cohen Vitae (world premiere)
David Knotts At the Mid Hour of Night (world premiere)
William Zinn Kol Nidrei Memorial

See also