It's not often I head off to hear a string quartet. Actually, I've never been to see one before in my life, except when there was also some singing somewhere in the concert. But a sudden need to feel slightly less of a philistine had me running to the Glenroy at 7.50pm on Monday night (I'd just been to Bride and Prejudice, so I was cutting it fine, timing-wise) to see the Shanghai Quartet. Wonderful Dunedin: I arrive minutes before the concert begins, get a student rush ticket for $15 - and I'm sitting in the front row. Fabulous. And the music was to die for. I cannot understand why anyone thinks a hideous creation like Bond is necessary to make this stuff exciting. They played two Beethoven string quartets, with arrangements by the second violinist of traditional Chinese music in the middle. And then some Ravel as an encore. It was brilliant. There were moments in the first Beethoven piece (String Quartet in B flat Opus 18 No 6 apparently) which left me almost breathless. And though I'm absolutely and completely unfamiliar with Beethoven string quartets (and Beethoven almost everything else for that matter) somehow I felt all the same as if I knew where I was. It wasn't familiar, but it wasn't bewildering either. The Chinese stuff was fantastic - it was what I was mainly looking forward to. Kudos to Yi-Wen Jiang for such excellent arrangements - equal parts (to me) exotic and familiarly lovely and string quartetish. And then the second Beethoven (String Quartet in C sharp minor Opus 131) which should surely have left them all unconscious with exhaustion - fabulous. And the Ravel encore, one movement of something I would very much like to hear in its entirety. I had a wonderful time. And with no singing! (Truth to tell, I'd still take a soprano over a violin any day...but at least my horizons are widening just a little bit.)
Will I go and see Pascal Rogé with the NZSO tonight?