Thursday 13 December 2018

Review: Badke Quartet

Dublin Castle

Pat O'Kelly

The Badke Quartet -- drawn from the US, UK, Hungary and Ireland -- proves music knows no boundaries. Led by Heather Badke from Boise, Idaho, they are on an 11-centre tour beginning with this Dublin night.

Formed in 2002, the ensemble is stylish with their 17th and 18th century viola and cello producing particularly mellifluous tones. The quartet's travelling programme celebrates Haydn and Schumann, but the centrepiece -- Belfast-born Ian Wilson's First Quartet 'Winter's Edge' -- is of more recent (1992) vintage.

Inspired by St Paul's request to his disciple Timothy to visit him 'before winter', the concise work reflects the apostle's destiny.

A dramatic beginning leads to the viola's gentler chorale-like idea but this is soon steeped in torment as repeated rasping chords recall Stravinsky's 'The Rite of Spring'. The work's progress can be harsh yet serene. Every facet of the Badke performance is stunning.

Haydn's D Major Hob III: 79 Quartet also ruffles the feathers a bit. The music takes imaginative twists and the musicians join in the amusement. The Badkes ensure Schumann's Third Quartet is beautifully blended. They give it the finesse of Haydn and Mozart as well as the extravagant gestures of Beethoven.

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