Heading to Australia for the first time is New York’s Enso Quartet who will premiere Australian composer Brenton Broadstock’s new work Safe Haven, which he composed especially for the quartet.
“Musica Viva put us in touch with Brenton Broadstock after we expressed interest in playing a new work on this tour,” cellist Richard Belcher says of the commission. “We’ re thrilled to have been introduced to him – he’s a wonderful composer, and we’re looking forward to bringing his piece to life.” Part of an “epic” nine-week, three-continent tour for the acclaimed quartet, the Australian tour is made all the more special by the Broadstock premiere. Belcher says the quartet, which formed at Yale, tries to commission or program one new work each season. “We enjoy it, but also we think it’s important to be playing (and have audiences be hearing) new music,” he says. “So long as we can do that, we’re helping keep the tradition alive.” He says the most obvious di fference between premiering a piece and performing an old work is there is no performance tradition witha new composition, “so one is forced to be original in how to interpret the piece”. “We’ve found that the more we do that, and the more committed we are to that process, it actually ends up helping us in working on other repertoire too – it makes us feel more free in working on a Beethoven quartet, for example. “In Brenton’s new piece, there are some pretty dazzling passages, mixed with some beautifully atmospheric music. Describing it more than that gets tricky – you’ll have to come and hear it. Getting a new piece and working on it is always a fun process, but really we can’t wait for the performances – that’s the last piece of the puzzle, sharing it with audiences.” Aside from Safe Haven, the quartet will perform Beethoven’s The Harp, Turina’s Serenata for String Quartet, op 87, and Ginastera’s String Quartet No 2, op 26, in Adelaide. “We often talk about putting programs together as being similar to planning a really good meal,” he says. “We want the pieces to be appropriately substantial/light and tasty/ good for the soul … hopefully people like what we’ve put together for this tour.” Acclaimed for their energy, technical prowess and charisma on stage, how has the quartet’s dynamic changed on stage over the last 17 years? “Naturally, the dynamic of our group has evolved over the years, especially as we’ve incorporated personnel changes, but also as we’ve matured and spent more time playing together. One thing that has developed with time is that now we’re less excited/worried (those things aren’t too far apart!) about just being on stage together. “When you start a quartet, it’s basically like playing a new instrument. The challenge becomes not how to just play your own instrument, but how to read your colleagues in stressful situations – how they might deal with nerves etc. Seventeen years down the track, we’ve figured out a bit more about that, which is great – it means we’ve got more energy to simply focus on the music we’re playing.” Enso String Quartet Adelaide Town Hall, Thursday, June 16 musicaviva.com.au ensoquartet.com