In review: Henschel Quartet
Siblings show uncertainty in Henschel Quartet program
by Robert Battey
The Henschel Quartet, a youngish German group including three siblings, is a most peculiar ensemble. Its performance Wednesday at the Library of Congress raised a host of questions. The group has been coached by the highest-level artists, has won prizes at major international competitions, and now apparently has a viable career. But given the individual instrumental problems on display in a program of Schumann and Barber, one has to wonder what the future holds.
I have never seen a professional violinist so ill at ease on the instrument as the Henschel's leader. His vibrato sometimes sounded like an intermediate student's -- so tense and inconsistent as to be functionless. His herky-jerky bow destroyed any semblance of legato, and he could not execute a proper spiccato. From the opening notes of Schumann's First Quartet, it was impossible to tell which stresses and accents were the composer's and which resulted from technical glitches. His two siblings suffered from all of these problems, but to a lesser extent.
(read more after the jump)
The Henschel's cellist (the non-sibling) is a fine, well-schooled player, and I can't imagine the frustration he must feel. Although the group somehow plays fairly well in tune, their respective idiosyncrasies with the bow make the matching of sound and attack a futile proposition. Their rendition of Barber's famous "Adagio" was like a scene from Beckett -- empty gestures and existential musings lacking any sense of direction.
They did give a humdinger of an encore, though: a movement from a quartet by Erwin Schulhoff, sort an if-Bartok-had-been-Jewish hoedown.
-- Robert Battey
April 16, 2010; 6:04 AM ET
Categories: local reviews | Tags: Library of Congress
Save & Share: Previous: In performance: Romeo and Julia Koren
Next: Eye on the prize: the annual Pulitzer post
Posted by: snaketime1 | April 21, 2010 4:16 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: MidgetteA | April 22, 2010 12:02 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: snaketime1 | April 22, 2010 9:37 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: MidgetteA | April 22, 2010 11:13 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: snaketime1 | April 22, 2010 12:17 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: snaketime1 | April 22, 2010 12:18 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Anne Midgette | April 23, 2010 1:11 AM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.