Petersen String Quartet

CHRISTOPHER SMITH Norfolk and Norwich Festival event at the John Innes Centre, Norwich Research Park


Dark grey, bronze with fiery glints and quietly gleaming silver are shades that might sum up these three works.

Or you could think in other terms: cerebral and gritty, open-hearted and dramatic, lyric and maturely elegant.

Another set of relationships and, at the right time, oppositions was naturally set up by the four players, Conrad Muck and Daniel Bell (violins), Friedmann Weigle (viola) and Henry-David Varema (a slightly under-assertive cello).

To start: Stravinsky's 1920 Concertino, grasped the attention and held it tight.

Grieg's Quartet in G minor, of course, seemed more defuse.

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The four instrumentalists attacked its diversity with a will, especially the viola player who could not resist emphatic leg language.

From echoes of the vastness of nature to the pretty tunes of the teashop, everything was here, topped up with bounding energy.

More refinement and poise gave distinction to Ravel's Quartet.

Pizzicato created new vistas in a movement familiar because of its use as incidental music, and nothing was more pleasing than the calm eclogue in which every note helped create a scene.

After that, another contrast was inevitable. But urbane discretion reigned even at this point.

The quartet showed its acumen not only in attack and ensemble, but also in the choice of the right tone for the particular moment.

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