As part of the very popular Prelude In Tea series at the Independent Theatre. this was an intense passionate concert strikingly played by the Sonus Piano Quartet. This quartet takes its name from sonus, the Latin word derived from the Greek “tonos” that means “noise, sound”.
Formed in late 2011 by Brenda Jones, the Sonus Piano Quartet celebrates the art of sound production in their performances. The Quintet features four master musicians : Australian Chamber Orchestra violinist, Aiko Goto, violinist Jacqui Cronin, Sydney Symphony Orchestra cellist, Timothy Nankervis and pianist, Brenda Jones.
The concert began with Saint-Saëns Piano Quartet in B flat major, Op. 41 with its elegant swoops on the violin. Jones’ playing on the piano was assertive, and Nankervis’ cello paying was intense.
The second movement heard Jones on piano off to a spiky, emphatic start followed later by some flourishes. There were some tango like dance rhythms, and a vibrant discussion between the quartet led to a fiery, turbulent conclusion.
The third movement, a scherzo in rondo form, had an edgy start, and featured fast, scurrying playing on the viola and violin. The music pulsated – the piano had a fast, anxious mini solo, whilst the other instruments commented. The music delicately evaporated to a pianissimo at the end.
The fourth, final movement was swirling and passionate, including many skillful contrapuntal effects, with a furious, breathless beginning, each member of the quartet stating the melody and passing it on to the other players. The movement featured a very Romantic sweeping, soaring passage leading to a fiery conclusion.
Ross Edward’s Emerald Crossing was next in the program. Edwards is regarded as one of Australia’s foremost composers. Emerald Crossingwas composed for piano quartet in 1999 and is among his typically nationalistic depictions of the Australian bush. Here we are asked to imagine a serene passacaglia, “haunted by an image of a canoe propelled slowly across calm green water.” The piece was pulsating and intense, like the build up to a major storm, with stormy rumblings on the piano that later fractured and shimmered.
The third and final piece was a richly textured performance of Robert Schumann’s Piano Quartet in E flat major, Op. 47. The first movement began slowly and languidly with the piano jewel like and the strings yearning.
The second, fluid and nimble movement was very fast and the piano had striking almost jazz like rhythms.
The third movement was thoughtful and song like. Nankervis on cello had an achingly beautiful solo at one point, and he was then joined by the other string players.
The final movement began in an explosive, emphatic fashion with breathless scurries and flourishes. The playing was passionate and dynamic.
This very pleasurable concert took place at the Independent Theatre, Miller Street Theatre, North Sydney on the afternoon of Sunday 24th October. Running time 1 hour and twenty minutes.