Taking him at his word, the Apollon Musagète’s performance of it yesterday morning was one which radiated with expansive, vivid playing from this young Polish quartet, who were making their Festival debut. Standing up to play, with the cellist on a raised stool, gave an extra edge to the immediacy of their sound in the ideal chamber music acoustic of the Queen’s Hall. Built on the ‘Fiddler’s’ motto from an earlier composition, Grieg’s richly textured, often folk-music inspired scoring was swept along by playing that exhilarated in the vitality of its spirit. It is surely a string quartet with a special place in Apollon Musagète’s repertoire.
Less evidently so was Puccini’s funeral lament, Crisantemi – Chrysanthemums – which was subdued and verging on timid rather than reverential mourning.
Mozart’s ‘Dissonance’ quartet likewise didn’t quite take off, although the beautifully sweet tone of first violin Pawel Zalejski cajoled the playful minuet and trio movement to open up into fuller bloom, with the andante preceding it growing organically in confidence.