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The Jerusalem Quartet
live in London
and on Jerusalem Music Centre archive

The Jerusalem Quartet
Alexander Pavlovsky, Sergei Bressler - violins
Amichai Grosz - viola 
Kyril Zlotnikov - cello

Wigmore Hall
17 March 2005:
Beethoven: String Quartet in G Op. 18 No. 2
Shostakovich: String Quartet No. 1 in C Op. 49
Schubert: String Quartet in D minor D. 810 'Death and the Maiden'

Jerusalem Music Centre October 2001
Beethoven: String Quartet Op. 18 No. 3
Kurtag Officium Breve
Brahms String Quartet Op. 51/1

This youthful Israeli quartet has been playing together for some ten years and brings an impressive unanimity and power into their playing. Everything is exactly in place, all preplanned and perfectly executed, but I did not have the feeling of music being created at the time. The leader's tone (as heard in the refurbished Wigmore Hall) was just a little strident and I was puzzled by the phrasing at the beginning of 18/2 - maybe a different edition to mine.

The Shostakovich was appropriately chosen for the launch of their CD cycle of that composer's quartets - but do we need another one? The Schubert crowned the evening with a tense, sonorous account taking its cue from the song, whose first phrases were intoned in a deathly non vibrato. All the movements are in the minor and the tarantella went like a whirlwind. No encore; they had to rush out into the foyer to catch the departing audience for a CD signing session.

As with the Aviv Quartet from Tel Aviv, which Musical Pointers has followed and particularly admired, Jerusalem's travelling ambassador can be heard in an entire recital (Beethoven/Kurtag/Brahms) downloaded onto your computer quickly from the Jerusalem Music Centre's valuable archive of live concerts. This is 'real' live broadcast music making (October 2001) complete with announcements in Hebrew and a dedication to the memory of recently deceased Isaac Stern, who had founded the Jerusalem Music Centre.

It sounds marvellous; Op 18/3 better actually than I found their 18/2 last night (mobile phones were in fine fettle at WH!). At 33'30" the sequence of epigrammatic pieces comprising Kurtag's Officium Breve is given a concentrated, scrupulously exact realisation which commands attention and had its Jerusalem audience silently attentive with a palpable sense of presence. I have been enjoying that recital enormously whilst working on this report.

Is it not by now an obsolete myth that listeners must have immaculate backgrounds for recorded music, free from intrusive noise as an absolute priority. If other organisations follow the JMC's public spirited example - and UK enthusiasts get used to keeping up with BBC R3's Listen Again facility, who'll need CDs?

Picture Credit: Leon Sokoletsky

© Peter Grahame Woolf