Sunday, March 6, 2022

Misfits to premieres performed by the Winther Quartet, at 'The B', Queanbeyan Bicentennial Hall, March 5. By guest reviewer Dante Costa.

       The Winther Quartet. Photo Peter Hislop.

NO program? No problem. The Winther Quartet’s unconventional yet spectacular ‘Romantic
Misfits and Quartets’ concert at The B (Bicentennial Hall) in Queanbeyan last night
(04/03/2022), brought with it a fresh and exciting performance for the audience including
an exclusive premiere of ‘Changes’ by Australian composer, Andrew Howes.

The concert was dedicated to revitalising otherwise neglected pieces and works that have
been tossed aside in favour of more mainstream repertoire. There was not a program in sight.
Instead, the group opted for an illustrious and intimate “salon style” concert - as described by
former Canberra Violinist and leader of the quartet, Kristian Winther. It allowed the audience
to follow the journey freely and unconfined to the parameters of a conventional set program.
Listeners were presented with nuanced perspectives which made the concert very real and
authentic which overall enhanced the performance.
Recently formed by Kristian Winther (violin), Beatrice Colombis (violin), Dana Lee (viola) and
Miles Mullin Chivers (cello), the young ensemble took to the stage last night kicking off the
performance with an entertaining and dynamic interpretation of Mozart’s ‘Divertimento in D
Major K.136’. With one unified breath, the quartet began with a vivacious Allegro, breathing
life into the work right from the beginning. The piece was lyrical, sophisticated and they
displayed incredible balance between the different textures and instruments. The gentle
tenuto Andante movement was contrasted skilfully with the fast and exciting staccato Presto
section. A truly commendable opening.
The premiere of ‘Changes’ by acclaimed Australian composer Andrew Howes was fresh,
fascinating and compelling. The piece was written to reflect the effects of Climate Change on
the Australian landscape. This was executed gracefully by the Winther Quartet who conveyed
the contrasting light and energetic themes with the poignant, tense and emotional middle
sections. The piece presented harmonically complex material and sections that were laced
with rhythmic and metrically interesting passages. This was well polished and executed
skilfully by the group. The cello solo was particularly wonderful as its plaintive, weeping sound
and rich use of tone colours portrayed the rawness of the unprecedented natural disasters
endured by the landscape in recent years.
Fanny Mendelssohn’s ‘String Quartet in E-flat Major’ was unique and refreshing. The piece
was played with exceptional musicality and demonstrated the abilities of each of the
performers with individual solo sections as well as their overall cohesiveness as an ensemble.
Concluding the concert was Tchaikovsky’s ‘String Quartet No.2’ lesser known than the 1st , but
just as thrilling and invigorating. The melodic motifs were played skilfully and were weaved
throughout the ensemble with ease. It was also exciting to hear the textures that at times
blended in and at other times stood out individually. The quartet performed the piece with
just the right amount of balance and individuality.
The Winther Quartet presented a list of lesser known works which in turn made for an
exciting, spirited and nuanced approach to Classical performance, which was enjoyed
thoroughly by the large audience. It is hard to believe that the group has only been together
for a short time. It was a truly commendable performance.