30 September 2013
Back in Canberra. It may not be a big smoke, but checking out what’s on, I realise this is a busy place of arts making. Reading the paper on Saturday, I learn of the Sundays in the Park concert series (held in the Bogong Theatre at Gorman House so not sure of the “park” reference) and a string quartet, Armaster Quartet, are playing the following day. It’s a new name to me, and it turns out to be the first public performance of a new string quartet formed from the Canberra Youth Orchestra and including several touring members of the esteemed Australian Youth Orchestra. There’s a touch of nerves, but this is good music, well performed in intimate surroundings. They played Borodin String Quartet no.2 movts 1&3, Mendelssohn String quartet no.2 A min and Percy Grainger Molly on the shore. To my ears, the Borodin was passed melodic snippets and a lengthier melody and nifty scalar lead-ins, the Mendelssohn was more passionate and chordal and symphonically developed, and the Grainger was evident and folky and very attractive. I felt the Grainger was played with the most gusto and joy and the other with apt concentration and growing confidence. Interestingly, only Emma on cello remained on one instrument: each of the others took parts as first and second violin and viola. They made a point of the Grainer being Toby’s first viola performance. All this mixing of roles was clever and fun and involving. This is a lovely, fresh quartet that I will have pleasure following over time. And what an intriguing name. The Armaster Quartet comprise Alys Rayner (violin, viola), Toby Aan (violin, viola), Mia Stanton (viola, violin) and Emma Rayner (cello).