Pavao String Quartet

CHRISTOPHER SMITH Starting with Mozart is always a good idea.


Starting with Mozart is always a good idea. The first item on this lunchtime programme at the Assembly House, Norwich, showed just why. Called the Dissonance String Quartet, it begins with quiet notes, measured and even mysterious, with no immediately obvious sense of direction. But with this composer there was no need to fret: everything is bound to come out right in the end. Sure enough, after a few bars, normal service was restored, and we were back in a world where composers were not ashamed to charm or too anxious to express confidence.

It was pleasing to note calm assurance in the passing of themes around the members of the Quartet — Claire Duckworth, Kerenza Peacock (violins), Natalie Gomes (viola) and Bryony Rump (cello). Each player knew perfectly well when it was her moment to make a special contribution, but there was no sense of personal pushiness in this well-balanced ensemble.

One of Mozart's heart-melting second movements added even more to the general sense of well-being, until momentum was lost.

After Aida, Verdi wondered whether his career was over and had doubts about his String Quartet of 1873. Oddly shaped it may be, but these players relished its pronounced contrasts.