Review: Polished performance by truly energetic Royal String Quartet
The Poland-based Royal String Quartet was formed in 1998 and, since 2013, it has regularly been in Belfast through its residency periods at Queen’s University.
As a leading ensemble in international musical circles, its presence at Queen’s University has brought much kudos and acclaim.
Regrettably, the Royals concluded their residency contract last night at the Sonic Arts Research Centre, but their departure was suitably marked by a memorable concert of music by Bach, Beethoven and Shostakovich.
Beautifully sustained string playing, an attractive amalgam of romantic and baroque styles, characterised the Royals’ approach to Bach’s Art Of Fugue, which opened this concert.
Despite the chronological chasm between Bach and Shostakovich, the latter’s Seventh String Quartet flowed on with an almost natural continuity. This belied the obvious and absolute differences of technique, artfulness and effects, because the same deeply committed playing of the Royals absorbed the attention of every listener. The final work in their final residential concert was one of the pinnacles of the string quartet repertoire — Beethoven’s challenging Grosse Fuge Op.133.
It was performed with great intensity, exuded energy and vivacity and left the audience in no doubt of the calibre of the music and the prowess of the playing.