In a game of two halves, spanning two centuries and using eight instruments, it was the Crumb that won.

City Recital Hall, Sydney

March 6, 2014

The Australian String Quartet, the ensemble with more regenerations than Dr Who, is on the road again with a sparkling new line up and plenty to say for itself. Last night at Angel Place we were treated to whistle stop tour of over two centuries of music on eight instruments (four of them even played upside down), two gongs and a barroom full of wine glasses.

The first half showcased the group’s famous set of Guadagninis, playing on gut strings as appropriate to the instruments’ period of manufacture. A quartet by Boccherini, rather dismissed in his day as “Haydn’s wife” I was intrigued to learn, started the program. The economically written Op 32, G Minor quartet starts off with a dollop of melancholy before cheering up a fair bit, though the musical barometer tends to hover part way between rain and shine.

The ASQ gave it an elegant, undemonstrative performance with a nod perhaps to the more advanced gloom to come (the Brahms C Minor was work next on offer). The andantino chirped away, the minimal...