When Hilary Kleinig (cello) mentioned in passing that the folk music for the evening’s program took ten years to collect, it reasoned that Zephyr Quartet are here for a long time. Opportunely, they are also here for a good time.
Zephyr Quartet took us around the world with fourteen pieces of folk music, which presented as the best, yet all-too-brief, ethnomusicology master-class I’ve ever attended, with a program and performance that would have been completely at home at a world music festival.
Syncopation, Hijaz scales, instrument tapping and harmonics were abundant amongst the love songs, lullabies, dances and storytelling, showcasing the quartet’s diverse talents and reason for enduring appeal.
The traditional Syrian folk song, Dinaresade, arranged by Kleinig, crescendoed over her syncopated cello, bass like and bowless delivering Kleinig’s promise the piece was “beautiful and mesmerising.”
We were treated to two world premieres: the first an artful arrangement by Stephen Whittington of the Mexican folk song, Homage to Frida Kahlo (La Sandunga). The quartet convincingly revealed subtleties of the dark beauty and complex pain of Kahlo’s life and art.
The second, a Hungarian folk song arranged by Quentin Grant, Csitári Hegyek Alatt (Somewhere on the Mountainside), gave Jason Thomas (viola) a sweet spotlight, leading to cleverly crafted changing times and tempos, depicting every inch of the tragic tale of ill-fated love.
The violinists Belinda Gehlert and Emily Tulloch owned the penultimate piece, the Finnish Klockar Aleksanteri (arranged by the former), until Thomas got involved and wound things up in true folk song playing fashion.
A well-received encore by way of the beautiful traditional Indigenous lullaby Inanay, left me tranquil, and wanting more.
Zephyr Quartet donated all profits from the concert to the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, to assist relief efforts for Syrian refugees. If the world could unite as harmoniously as Zephyr Quartet convinced us its music does, world peace might be more than just a dreaming beauty queen’s wish.
Reviewed by Gordon Forester
Venue: Elder Hall, North Terrace, Adelaide
Season: 16 November 2013
Duration: 1 ¼ hours
Photo Credit: Sam Oster