Friday 3 May 2024
Hobart Town Hall
It’s spectacular success, winning first prize at the 2018 Wigmore Hall Competition in London, was the forerunner of notable appearances at festivals including Elbphilharmonie Hamburg, the Verbier and Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival, Lucerne Festival, the Flagey Musiq3 Festival in Brussels, L’Auditori in Barcelona, Teatro La Fenice in Venice, the Heidelberg String Quartet Fest and Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie and a residency at the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence. It then embarked on a whirlwind year of concerts in North America, Hong Kong and Japan. These are its first Australian performances.
Esme’s debut CD, featuring works by Ludwig van Beethoven, Unsuk Chin and Frank Bridge and released in early 2020 by Alpha Classics, won a 5-star review from Diapason d’Or and was named one of the best classical albums of 2020 by WQXR Radio in New York. In October of that year, the Esme Quartet also received the Hans Gal Prize of the German Academy of Sciences and Literature in Mainz and the Villa Musica Foundation.
The four musicians, who are bound by many years of friendship, have studied with Heime Muller (Artemis Quartet) in Lubeck and with Oliver Wille (Kuss Quartet) in Hanover. In its concerts, the Esme Quartet, whose name is derived from medieval French and means ‘beloved’, is celebrated for its spellbinding dynamics, stylistically assured interpretations and perfect ensemble playing, which has also aroused the interest of many renowned guest artists – as demonstrated most recently by its collaboration with Eckart Runge, the long-time cellist of the Artemis Quartet.
For its Australian debut it plays works which are the epitome of youth: an early work of Webern overflows with romantic invention, while Mendelssohn’s second String Quartet blazes with the heart-on-sleeve emotion of a teenage genius; and emerging Australian composer Jack Frerer’s Spiral Sequences is an exhilarating roller-coaster ride. Add to this Claude Debussy’s only string quartet, brimming with rhythmic and harmonic exuberance.