You could never accuse Prague’s Pavel Haas Quartet of stinting on drama. The foursome attacked their richly coloured programme with breathtaking vigour and no less abandon – there was a chance the whole thing could have come off the rails, were it not for the group’s impeccable control and minute attention to nuance.
Pavel Haas Quartet, Queen’s Hall (*****)
After a deceptively throwaway start, their Shostakovich Seventh Quartet made for an enigmatic, nervy opener, seeming to raise more questions than it answered, and setting a profoundly searching, exploratory tone for the rest of the recital. In response, the Pavel Haas players made a exhilarating journey of their meaty main course, Schubert’s ‘Rosamunde’ Quartet, from introspective melancholy in its opening movement to hard-won freshness in the blithely lyrical finale. Every detail counted, too, in their brooding minuet, its hesitant opening giving way to tellingly ghostly dance gestures.
Ravel’s Quartet made a brisk, sharply characterised conclusion, from deep melancholy in its impassioned opening – made slightly fragmentary, it has to be said, by the players’ microscopic attention to detail – to joyful abandon in its blazing finale.
A nod to their homeland in one of Dvořák’s Cypresses made a restrained, gently radiant encore to what had been a gloriously vivid, captivating recital of exuberant music making.