Reviews from the semester: Quatuor Danel

Quatuor Danel, October 10, 2013
World-Class, 10/10

The post-conversation of a typical concertgoer is most likely to involve the words ‘amazing’ and ‘brilliant’, or for those more musically inclined: ‘did you notice the embedded motifs from Britten’s Opera ‘Death In Venice’… bla bla’ Well, the Quatuor Danel’s performance invited both responses but words, honestly, cannot justify their musical talent. I might be accused of romanticising but from the first chord of Haydn’s String Quartet in Bb, Op.1, No.1, also known as ‘La Chasse’, to the last of Benjamin Britten’s String Quartet No.3 Op, 94, I was on the edge of my seat experiencing exactly what they wanted me to.

The first blinding element of their playing was how unified they were, each stroke was unmistakably placed and as an audience you got enveloped in the communication between each member. The brows frowned and rose, the ears lifted, the eyes widened, the mouths and cheeks moved; it was like a secret language.

Their passion and energy for the music was infectious and it was bizarre how the first violinist (Marc Danel) and often the second (Gilles Millet) would actually stretch out his legs and then, at a particularly pleasant passage, lift one up so that his ankle would be in line with the sheet music! He would then amusingly leap up off his seat if an exciting, uplifting cadenza came up. Mesmerising. The music was performed, not just through the instruments, but the whole body of each player.

I finish with a whole-hearted recommendation to see this phenomenal, world-class Belgium Quartet live. We are very lucky, as a university, to have The Quatuor Danel as our artists-in-residence. They will be performing throughout the year as part of the lunchtime concert series.

By Kate Passmore

Quatuor Danel, Oct 10 2013

Creating an effective and contrasting concert programme is a task that has, on occasion, driven even the most gifted of performers to the very borders of sanity. In their first concert of the season, one of the free weekly concerts of the ‘Walter Carroll Lunchtime Concert Series’ at the Martin Harris Centre, Quatuor Danel –artists in residence at the Martin Harris Centre– demonstrated not only their mastery of ensemble and the art of the string quartet but also that of perfect programming. The concert, which featured Haydn’s first string quartet (Quartet in Bb ‘La Chasse Op 1) and a piece that Marc Danel described as “one of the greatest pieces of chamber music ever”, Britten’s third quartet (String quartet No 3, Op 94 [1975]), traced the development of the form from its beginnings in the Classical era to its continued use in the 20th century. The choice of a quartet written in the infancy of the form and a piece that Britten wrote in the final year of his life allowed for a breadth musical interpretation that made for a pleasingly rounded concert.

Repertoire aside, the performance itself was also immaculate. Marc Danel, the ensemble’s first violinist, approached melodies with characteristic fervour and elegant lyricism. The ensemble demonstrated a rich sound, due in no small part to the broad tone of both Giles Millet (Violin) and Vlad Bogdanas (Viola), and held the audience with the subtle deployment of extended technique in the Britten. Yovan Markovitch, a recently acquired member of the group, offered sturdy drive throughout and in the final movement of the Britten was allowed to demonstrate his own expertise in melody, ending the performance with a haunting morendo before well deserved applause from a very impressed audience who will no doubt return for Quatuor Danel’s next appearance.

By Jordan Harding-Pointon.