..."a performance of the utmost refinement and sensitivity in which each player suppressed his own individuality to find a common voice."...
(Lindis Taylor, "Middle C")
Tuesday, November 25, 2014 - 12:15pm

Review of the Aroha Quartet's first concert in Wellington, Old St Paul's, Sunday 5 December 2014.
Reviewed by Lindis Taylor, Dominion Post, 7 December 2014

The Aroha Quartet comprises four Chinese musicians - three, violinists Haihong Liu and Beiyi Xue and cellist Jiaxin Cheng NZSO members, and the violist Zhongxian Jin teaching at Victoria University. I arrived halfway through the minuet of Haydn's Emperor Quartet; the impact was immediate. This is an ensemble of very great refinement, fully sensitive to the character of the music, its intellect and wit, accurate at speed and delicately nuanced in slow passages.

Beethoven's Op 18 No 3 enjoyed similar refinement with an accord between players that suggested years of playing together. More impressive was their phantasm world account of Schubert's disquieting, single movement piece in C minor, D 703.

The answer to the question of whether they would also have command of Dvorak's American Quartet of 70 years later was an emphatic "yes". It was not indeed an opulent, romantic display, but the same scrupulous care with dynamics and stylistically right ornaments, tonal beauty and phrasing that carried the music forward, anticipating what was to come. In the peasant-like third movement, the first violin was not afraid to attenuate her tone, all their polish and refinement did not detract from a swift and colourful last movement.

This is one of the finest ensembles to emerge from the NZSO ranks. I hope they can find the time to give many more concerts.