The Tasmanian String Quartet (Emma McGrath and Jennifer Owen on violin, Douglas Coghill on viola, and Jonathan Békés on cello) is, in a sense, COVID-19’s gift to Tasmanian culture. The ensemble of TSO musicians came together during those grim months when live music was effectively silenced. Their reduced schedules allowed for intensive rehearsals, and the Quartet came to public notice first on the TSO’s Daily Dose, and subsequently on the orchestra’s Friday Night Live series. Chamber ensembles have come and gone in Tasmania over the last couple of decades. On the evidence of this performance, this one would appear to be here to stay. I certainly hope so.

Tasmanian String Quartet. Photograph supplied

The concert opened with Bartók’s String Quartet No 5 – an unusual choice of program order, but one which made perfect sense given its relationship to the new Jabra Latham piece, commissioned by the TSQ. In her opening words, Owen invited us to feel, rather than attempt to understand, Bartók’s music, and to accompany them on a journey. I took her at her word, and as I listened to...