★★★★ Surprisingly homogeneous excellence from quartet in transition.

City Recital Hall, Angel Place, Sydney
September 2, 2015

The Australian String Quartet has had a rough year by any standards and the sparse audience of 150 or so at the City Recital Hall might just have represented a lack of confidence in an ensemble in transition, half made up of ring-ins. If so, that’s both disappointing and unfair as guest players Susie Park (a terrific Australian violinist resident for many years now in New York) and Brendan Joyce (the multi-talented leader of Queensland’s Camerata of St John’s) are underestimated at your peril. Alongside violist Stephen King and cellist Sharon Draper – the current 50% of the ASQ before two new players join next year – they put in a performance that deserved to be seen by a full house. And if the programme’s title seemed a bit fuzzy around the edges, the playing was sharply focussed throughout.

Mozart’s String Quartet No 15 may have been sporadically penned while the composer popped in and out to say hello to a wife in labour, but it has none of the joys of imminent fatherhood. Instead it’s a moody, sometimes turbulent work,...