French musicians have a reputation for being supreme in French music, but not so hot in Beethoven.
On the evidence of this Portsmouth Chamber Music concert, the four young men of the Van Kuijk Quartet are blazing in both.
Debussy’s Quartet in G Minor opened with passionate lyricism, giving way to intuitive phrasing as the music changed gear.
The slow movement’s pizzicato had a quiet swagger, and the finale’s intensity also contained an essentially French sense of inwardness and haunting sadness.
Then Beethoven’s late E-flat Quartet, Op 127, began with a lyricism that surged irresistibly into contrasting ruggedness.
The slow movement produced a songful subtlety of phrasing, with the extraordinary opening aria fading into irresistibly shimmering, progressive harmonies.
And the scherzo bubbled and chattered with energy and subtle colourings – rich in fantasy yet tightly structured.
Haydn’s’ Sunrise’ quartet began the programme, achieving a strong sense of dawn in a piece where the cellist first showed his welcome willingness to throw his musical weight around.
Another fine concert in the series promoted by the University of Portsmouth and Music In The Round.