String Quartet in E minor, Op.121
String Quartet in A, Op.41/3
Meta4 [Antti Tikkanen & Minna Pensola (violins), Atte Kilpeläinen (viola) & Tomas Djupsjöbacka (cello)]
Reviewed by: Ben Hogwood
Reviewed: 19 March, 2012
Venue: Wigmore Hall, London
Unfortunately the same cannot be said for the interpretation of the Schumann – some good ideas but marred by the sound. Too often the attack of bow-on-string was initially gentle before ‘pushing through’ the note, creating a swell in the middle of each note and a value longer than its true length. This was distracting and proved disruptive to the sound quality of each phrase, getting in the way of Schumann’s rhythmic ingenuity. Only in the faster, more detached music was this not an issue, with the perky last movement the most successful of the four, with some tasteful ornamentation applied to the second theme in particular. In the scherzo there was greater clarity, but with the onset of the trio the problem returned. The slow movement, one of Schumann’s most inventive in its abrupt changes of mood and harmonic direction, suffered most when at a quiet dynamic, though once louder an impressive heft was given to the sound. Ultimately, this performance made it difficult to warm to Schumann’s formal invention and experimentation, and felt like an opportunity missed.