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Confidence and allure

Reece Donlan, Quays Life

Kate Bush said it perfectly when she said: “I don’t aim for perfection. But I do want to try to come up with something interesting.” This is the perfect analogy for the strikingly unique, yet superbly unusual experience that a small handful experienced during the latest performance from the Solem Quartet, along with gust performer, Alice Zawadzki.

The first half has the small audience silent with suspense, with the recorded audio [of Steve Reich’s Different Trains] blaring through stereo speakers either side of the stage.

“The quartet play along with the recording, flawlessly mirroring, and imitating the distinctive noises of once recorded trains along with imitating the sound of recorded speech through unique and specialised strokes.”

Stephen Upshaw can be seen plucking at his violin pizzicato style part way through, causing the sounds to cut through high above the collective.

More than 25 minutes of continuous playing go by and the troupe show no sign of stopping. It’s only as the final movement of Reich’s piece ends does the quartet softly come to a tender conclusion. The room pauses for a moment in complete silence before breaking out in applause. Tears can be falling from the faces of several, whilst others turn to one another to reflect on what they had just experienced.

“As a complete contrast to the evening’s first half, which was heavily shaped by pre-recorded audio, Solem Quartet now lead with confidence and allure [in Kate Bush’s songs]. Trills and harmonies sail through the air, complementing one another perfectly before landing the ears below.”

Cellist Stephanie Tress, nods and sways her head along to the melody, occasionally looking up at Alice for lyrical cues, all the while drawing her bow across the strings with grace.

… the night’s performance serenely comes to a calming end, leaving the musicians to stand one last time to massive applause.

Photo credit: Reece Donlan

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21/07/2024