A Real Sign of Collaboration from the Pavel Haas Quartet at the EIF


EIF logo

Edinburgh International Festival 2018 [14] – Schubert, Shostakovich, Ravel: Pavel Haas Quartet, Queen’s Hall, 22.8.2018. (SRT)

Pavel Haas Quartet (c) Marco Borggreve

Shostakovich – String Quartet No.7

Schubert – String Quartet No.13 in A minor D804 ‘Rosamunde’

Ravel – String Quartet

Founded in 2002, the Pavel Haas Quartet may no longer be the hot young newcomers on the international scene, but they’ve definitely achieved the status of chamber music royalty. They’ve forged their reputation in central and Eastern European repertoire, so the first two items on their EIF programme were well chosen to showcase their skills.

Their rich, impeccable blend is a feast for the ears, anchored by the mahogany-toned cello of Peter Jarůšek, while the first violin of Veronia Jaruskova sets sail for the heavens with her golden cantabile sound. Thus, Schubert’s Rosamunde Quartet sounded about as good as you could ever hear it, full of luxurious warmth in the slow movement, with a Menuetto that sounded more like a song than a dance, and a finale whose smile never quite managed to shake off the darkness of what had come before. The anguish of the first movement came across as though sweetened into something of rare delight, the tragedy lying deep so that it surfaced more as sublime melancholy, with the undulating accompaniment running like a dark vein through the sensational streams of melody. That combination of smiling and weeping also characterised their Shostakovich. They perfectly captured the emotional ambiguity of the opening – is it playful or is it weary? – and the violin at the start of the slow movement seemed to be singing through the tragedy, while the ending refused to make it clear whether it had really achieved serenity or was just wearing the mask of a smile over a weeping face.

French impressionism is much further from their repertoire staple, but they brought the same incisive attack and clarity of vision to the Ravel Quartet, the scampering middle lines juddering against the singing violin in the opening movement, with much greater diversity of textures than you might be used to hearing in this work. They looked as though they were thoroughly enjoying the jagged rhythms of the scherzo. Here, as elsewhere in the recital, they seemed to be looking at each other as much as they looked at their scores, a real sign of collaboration, and that carried on through the tremulous slow movement and the frantic games of the finale. They then surprised us all with their encore, the ninth of Dvořák’s Cypresses, giving us a muted, soft-toned picture of beauty that seemed to ask whether there’s anything they can’t do.

Simon Thompson

The concert was broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 and can currently be heard here. The 2018 Edinburgh International Festival runs in venues across the city until Monday 27th August. For full details click here.


Leave a Reply

Recent Reviews



Season Previews

  • NEW! Let’s Dance International Frontiers 29 April – 11 May 2019 in Leicester __________________________________
  • NEW! Classical Music and Other Events at the Southbank Centre in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! Longborough Festival Opera’s 2019 Season __________________________________
  • UPDATED! Cleveland Orchestra in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! Classical Music at the Barbican in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! The Met: Live in HD in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! Carnegie Hall 2019-2020 Season Highlights __________________________________
  • NEW! Bampton Classical Opera’s 2019 Performances of Stephen Storace’s Gli sposi malcontenti __________________________________
  • NEW! Nevill Holt Opera’s 2019 Season __________________________________
  • NEW! 2019 Aldeburgh Festival at the Snape Maltings in June __________________________________
  • NEW! Garsington Opera’s 2019 30th Anniversary Season __________________________________
  • NEW! Venus Unwrapped: Kings Place’s Year-Long Focus on Women Composers __________________________________
  • NEW! Opera Buenos Aires in 2019 – Largely Traditional __________________________________
  • NEW! Looking Ahead to the 2019 Lucerne Festivals __________________________________
  • NEW! Opera Holland Park’s 2019 Season __________________________________
  • The Royal Opera House’s Exciting 2018/19 Cinema Season __________________________________
  • UPDATED! Zurich Opera in 2018/2019 and Beyond __________________________________
  • Subscribe to Review Summary Newsletter

    Reviews by Reviewer

    News and Featured Articles

  • NEW! A New Initiative is Announced Supporting the Development of Female Conductors __________________________________
  • NEW! In August Fulham Opera’s Most Ambitious Project to Date – Die Meistersinger Von Nürnberg __________________________________
  • NEW! Chelsea Opera Group Perform Boito’s Mefistofele on 24 March at the QEH __________________________________
  • R.I.P. IN MEMORIAM ANDRÉ PREVIN (1929-2019) __________________________________
  • NEW! Ivan Putrov’s Against the Stream Ballet Gala Night on 7 April __________________________________
  • NEW! London To Hear Long-Overdue Revival of Parry’s Oratorio Judith in April __________________________________
  • NEW! Ik zeg: NU: I say now, now … an interview with Richard Causton __________________________________
  • NEW! SOPRANO ELENA MOȘUC IN CONVERSATION WITH CASEY CREEL __________________________________
  • NEW! A Q&A WITH GERMAN SOPRANO PETRA LANG __________________________________
  • HOW TO CONTACT SEEN AND HEARD INTERNATIONAL __________________________________
  • Search S&H

    Archives by Week

    Archives by Month