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Esmé Quartet - Beethoven, Bridge & Chin: To Be Loved - MusicWeb International

The Beethoven String Quartet receives a first-rate performance from this young, all-female quartet, making here their commercial CD debut. Their playing is full of vitality and energy, superbly balanced, intuitively phrased and impressively perceptive both stylistically and musically. Comprising four Korean players, friends since childhood, all of whom studied at the Hochschule für Musik in Cologne where they formed the Esmé Quartet in 2016, they bring to their music-making not just that sense of close friendship and youthful enthsuiasm to the music, but a collective tone which is wonderfully rich, warm, and full of subtlety and colour. They never fight shy of taking risks (the Scherzo’s quickfire question-and-answer character is taken at a truly exhilarating pace, the dynamic contrasts vividly conveyed, and the robust Trio pounded out with a powerfully bucolic muscularity, while the Finale’s helter-skelter opening theme is every bit as hair-rising as any funfair ride) and communicate a powerful sense of sheer enjoyment. Listening to the glorious fluency and free-wheeling playing of this ensemble one can almost swallow the fanciful prose of booklet-note writer Luca Dupont-Spirio, who enthuses how, “freer, even than a pianist’s fingers, the instruments of the string quartet can do almost anything”.

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MusicWeb International
28 June 2020