Musical sommelier Carl Vine gives us a taste of the vintages on offer in this year’s Festival program.
The Orava Quartet’s impassioned performance of Tchaikovsky’s First String Quartet – a cornerstone of the repertoire – was one of the highlights of last year’s Australian Festival of Chamber Music. The group that Limelight’s then Editor Clive Paget described as “the most exciting young quartet on the block” also performed alongside long-standing quartet stalwarts, the Goldner Quartet, in a performance of Shostakovich’s Opus 11 Octet. The Orava Quartet seemed to be everywhere in 2017, performing all kinds of music, but it is with the Russian repertoire such as they played in Townsville that they will achieve a significant milestone, becoming the first Australian string quartet to sign with Universal Music Australia. Their debut album will come out on the Deutsche Grammophon label in Australia in February. The Orava Quartet: Daniel Kowalik, David Dalseno, Karol Kowalik and Thomas Chawner. Photo © Dylan Evans Photography But while the Orava Quartet’s recent successes have felt meteoric, the kind of organic ensemble playing they demonstrated at the Festival – “[they] really do breathe as one, an intense togetherness allowing them to indulge a winning delicacy of touch with each player given his moment to sparkle in the sunlight,” wrote Paget – doesn’t come out of