De Volkskrant

“Stamping feet for fabulous string quartet”

17 August 2010
Badke Quartet





The Badke Quartet presented itself with works by Haydn, Janáček and Ravel. The four can tackle brand-new works equally well. And if it was up to viola player Jon Thorne, he would probably have persuaded his musical mate Amy Winehouse to take a little trip to the other side of the musical spectrum. These musicians adopt a broad approach. They could be style icons for a generation that is equally at home in Paradiso as in the Kleiner Saal of the Concertgebouw, where the quartet performed its debut as part of the Robeco Summer concert series.
The quartet, named after its leader Heather Höhmann-Badke, is London-based. It has learned the subtle tricks of the trade from Gábor Takács-Nagy, ex-leader of the famous Takács Quartet. Established in 2002, the viola player joined the group in April this year. It is already noticeable that his input is carrying the quartet to a higher plane. All the musicians are, without exception, fabulous, but the viola’s solos in Leos Janáček’s Second String Quartet, nicknamed ‘Intimate letters’, have seldom enjoyed the intimate tête-à-tête that Jon Thorne added.

The string quartet by Ravel, challenging through its many techniques and moods, was a paragon of good ensemble playing. The violin and viola sensed each other’s timbre with delicacy in the first movement, marked ‘très doux’. The pizzicato notes in the second movement fitted together in a sparkling rhythmic manner.
Heather Höhmann demonstrated her formidable musical talent in the encore – the menuet of Haydn’s String Quartet op.76 no.1 – her playing was of the utmost delicacy. The response from the hall: applause, stamping feet and enthusiastic whistling.

Bela Luttmer

Badke Quartet
Haydn, Janáček, Ravel.
Amsterdam, Concertgebouw, 13/8/10

English version kindly translated by Yvonne Terlingen.