The members of our VACMS string quartet are scattered across Melbourne, so getting together regularly wasn’t really possible, but we did have plenty of time to prepare, and also a tutoring session with Zoe Knighton, cellist in the Flinders Quartet. Zoe brings plenty of enthusiasm and encouragement to tutoring sessions, as well as an ability pick out the key points and communicate those really clearly, so it’s always a fulfilling session. I’m sure Zoe notices when we are out of tune or not together but she would never say that to a group in such a blunt or discouraging way.
The Collins St Baptist Church is a somewhat grand looking building that could be mistaken for a town hall, but behind the white Corinthian columns hides a space that is very well suited to chamber music. In our 15 minutes warm up before the concert to get the feel of the acoustic, we noticed that the sound from the other players seemed more distant. Zoe advised us to play out to the audience, and not to play down to hear others better.
The success of our performance now rested on our preparation – there would be no room for relying on hope or luck, and no chance to go back and have another try. So for 10 minutes we relied on our instincts and added adrenaline to create a rendering of the Dvorak No 10 2nd movement. The time passed in a blur, the audience clapped and we relaxed, having given the piece our best.
Now it was our turn to sit back and appreciate the Flinders quartet for the next hour. The Flinders tacked some fiendishly difficult Greenbaum and Britten, pieces that are hard to comprehend let alone imagine how you can bring four players together in such an intricate jigsaw. A movement of Beethoven, with perfect intonation and articulation was the palate cleanser at the end before we all headed back to the real world again.
If you fancy a musical hour for a lunchtime escape, check out the Flinders Quartet’s Collins St Baptist series. Their next concert is at 1pm, 27 September 2016, and features Shostakovich and Mozart.