The Strad

“an unswerving togetherness … thrilling … agile, articulate playing”

Kings Place 13 January 2013

This concert by the Badke Quartet proved that the group, formed in 2002, is now passing definitely into maturity. There’s no place to hide in most of the Haydn quartets, nor was there any need for any in the Badke’s performance of the op.20 no.4 ‘Sun’ Quartet. With playing that often barely had a hint of vibrato, there was an unswerving togetherness, not only in the ensemble but in the music’s ‘unfolding’. A sixth sense was also at play in the group’s delicious ‘lifted’ phrase-end releases, producing as resonant a body of sound as I’ve heard in this relatively dry acoustic. Thrilling as the Badke’s agile, articulate playing was in the finale, and capable as the players were at scaling dynamics super-quickly, there was a matching intimacy and searing body of town in the slow movement. In Respighi’s Il Tramonto, a setting of Shelley’s ‘The Sunset’, the group seemed less enticing, perhaps unable to transcend the soprano, Michelle Todd, who lacked lustre.

After the interval, the first movement of Ravel’s String Quartet could have been more whimsical. But the second teemed with inner-texture detail. Violist Jon Thorne was memorable in his third-movement solos – convincingly, but unwittingly, establishing a pivotal presence.

Edward Bhesania