The fact the St. Petersburg String Quartet returned to a mostly full St. Philip's Episcopal Church on Friday after a three-year absence is cause for rejoicing.
The quartet, from Russia, not Florida, is an unbeatable world-class ensemble. Their ensemble presentation is seamless and their musical insight is flawless ... Pyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky's Quartet No. 1 in D Major (1871) has the distinctive Tchaikovsky sound some earlier works lack. He made his mark more with orchestral music than chamber music, but this work may sound familiar. Its second movement, Andante cantabile, is based on a folk song and was arranged by Tchaikovsky for cello and string orchestra.
This bigger version has been heard many more times than the whole quartet.
Again, the St. Petersburg was matchless, with a sound so exact that it almost defies description. String quartet sweet perfection by William Furtwangler.
The St. Petersburg is a quartet to be seen and savored. And thus this concert was seen by a capacity house and savored to its fullest. From the delightful and exotic sounds of the opening 'Novelettes', to the plaintive and powerfully expressive lines of the Shostakovich, to the joyfulness and thoughtfulness of the closing Beethoven, the St. Petersburg regaled its willingly captive audience with rich, sublimely blended sounds, wonderfully articulate technique, and defined musical meaning. The performance was essentially flawless, one that was filled with listener delight and musical savvy." The Virginia Gazette.
The St. Petersburg musicians gave the piece a mesmerizing performance." Baltimore Sun, March 4, 2003.
Masters of subtlety and refinement, the members of the St. Petersburg String Quartet embodied the chamber music ideal of four voices speaking as one... there was nothing tepid or unilluminating about the music-making." Los Angeles Times.
"Five stars for performance and sound" BBC Music Magazine (CD Review of Glazunov Quartet No. 5 and Novelettes on Delos).
"CHAMBER OPENER GLORIOUS ... (ThePiccolo Spoleto Festival) got off to a rousingly successful opening Monday evening by featuring the St. Petersburg String Quartet ... the program was made up of some glorious sounds worth re-hearing and re-experiencing ... held the audience entranced throughout." Charleston Post and Courier.
CONCERT EXHIBITS PERFECT LINKING OF MUSIC, MUSICIANS Tuesday's performance was simply fabulous ... with their elegant style and deep emotional involvement, the St. Petersburg members burned their performance into my memory." Houston Chronicle.
"ST. PETERSBURG QUARTET INFUSES MUSIC WITH LIFE The St. Petersburg String Quartet staked a plausible claim to the top rung of the chamber music ladder ... the Quartet plays with high polish, perfect accord and a transparent, unusually clean and integrated sound. But what sets this troupe apart is its capacity to get inside the music and astonish the listener with the sheer rightness and vividness of its interpretations ... Not a bar passed without a bold insight, an unexpected nuance of color, balance, tempo or rhythm that made you think, 'Oh! So that's how it's supposed to go!' The hallmark of the St. Petersburg is a driving, surging, throbbing, organic sense of rhythm ... This was music overbrimming with life." San Antonio Express-News.
" ST. PETERSBURG OPENS MUSICORDA WITH FLAIR The flawless precision of this quartet was awe-inspiring. They took three curtain calls, one to a standing ovation, and then rewarded us with a Scherzo by Borodin as an encore ... The 'bite' of (Aranovskaya's) attack, her consistently strong bowing, and her supremely confident fingerwork were electrifying." Daily Hampshire Gazette (Northampton, MA).
" ... some of the best quartet playing to emerge from Russia in 30 years." In Tune.