Panocha Quartet

FRANK CLIFF John Innes Centre, Norwich


> John Innes Centre, Norwich

Prior to Saturday's recital, the Panocha Quartet from Prague must have been one of the best-kept secrets in chamber music as far as East Anglia was concerned, for their visit was the first to the region for this ensemble, which was founded way back in 1968. More remarkable is the fact that in the 36 years of their existence, there have been no changes in personnel – surely a record.

Their elegant sound and perfect balance were in evidence in Haydn's Opus 55 No 3 in B flat, one of the second set of quartets dedicated to Tost, the leader of the second violins in the Esterhazy Orchestra, and here performed with an ease which belied the virtuosity the work demands.

This virtuosity also enabled them to uncover every nuance in Janacek's second quartet in Intimate Letters; its emotional intensity played with an understanding which perhaps only Czech musicians can. Dvorak seemed an inevitable choice to end with an opportunity to hear the seldom-performed A Flat Quartet.