Music > Live Reviews

Solem Quartet and Faraz Eshghi NNF 2023

Octagon Chapel

by Tom Lincoln Words And Picture


Solem Quartet and Faraz Eshghi   NNF 2023

Beethoven Bartók Now: Courage

This performance was the latest in the Solem Quartet’s Beethoven Bartók Now project, which sees a quartet from each composer played alongside a newly commissioned work from a contemporary composer, in this case Bushra El-Turk, whose ‘Rostan, Rastan and Rast-Kara’ received its world premiere tonight.

The evening began with an engaging performance of Bartók’s sixth, and final, string quartet, composed in tumultuous circumstances in the final years of his life against the backdrop of the outbreak of the second world war. The work, which is in four movements, is frequently melancholy and reflective, and contains a quotation from Beethoven’s sixteenth quartet, also excellently performed tonight.

Between these two, though, was a completely mesmerising performance of Bushra El-Turk’s outstanding new work, for which the Solem Quartet were joined by kamancheh player Faraz Eshghi. ‘Rostan, Rastan and Rast-Kara’, which was introduced by the composer, was motivated by the revolutions and the women that ignited them in Iran, Lebanon and the surrounding region.

The kamancheh is an Iranian bowed string instrument, which is usually tuned like a violin. Certainly, it was integrated seemingly effortlessly into the existing quartet, introduced gently, through the slowly building ‘Rostan’ (which means ‘to grow’) section of the piece. The following sections (‘Rastan’ meaning ‘to be freed’ and ‘Rast-Kara’; ‘redemption’) were equally compelling, and the piece as a whole sat comfortably alongside the established masterpieces of the 19th and 20th century canon performed either side of it.
This was a masterfully programmed and performed concert, in a venue which suits chamber music perfectly.

The Solem Quartet will be performing twice more at this year’s Norfolk and Norwich Festival, including back at the Octagon Chapel on 25 May, for the next instalment of Beethoven Bartók Now.

Solem Quartet