SeatonMusic opened its 61st season with a breath-taking performance by one of the foremost young Russian string quartets.

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It was a second visit to Seaton for the Dominant Quartet (Elena Revich, Ekaterina Pogodina, Anna Sazonkina and Tatiana Egorova) .

Founded in Moscow 15 years ago, they have won the Shostakovich International String competition and the International String Competition in Bordeaux and undertaken several European tours.

On their first visit, six years ago, they gave a memorable concert for the club, and on Thursday, October 25, they started a new tour of the UK with a programme of Russian and Austrian music, given in Seaton Town Hall.

Their programme ranged from the 18th to the 20th century, with Mozart’s Hunt Quartet K458 and the Quartet in C minor, Op110 by Shostakovich.

The other Austrian work was Webern’s Langsamer Satz, and two more Russian works - Tchaikovsky’s Quartet no1 in D major, Op11 and Rachmaninov’s Romance and Scherzo for String Quartet – completed the stunning evening’s performance.

Whether in the classical restraint of the Mozart or in the rich dark tone of the Webern, in the drama of the Rachmaninov or the lyricism and energy of the Tchaikovsky, the Dominant Quartet’s playing held the large audience spell-bound with their precision and intensity.

The range of emotions demonstrated in their programme showed why they have an international reputation.

The four instruments were beautifully balanced and the music phrased as if they were one player.

The well-known Andante Cantabile from the Tchaikovsky quartet showed the players just as much at home in this lyrical piece as in the vigorous movement that followed and the grand final movement, where the quartet sounded more like a string orchestra than just four musicians.

Particularly moving was the quartet by Shostakovich, inspired by the composer’s visit to Dresden, but probably intended as an expression of his own feelings and reflections. (Part of it was played at the composer’s own funeral.)

The Dominant Quartet achieved breath-taking pianissimo passages, dramatic rhythmic playing and demonstrated the composer’s ironical streak as he quotes his own music.

After this first top-class concert, the series continues on November 22, when pianist James Sherlock will play a programme of French music.

Peter Dawson

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