'Great talent and enthusiasm': Penny Quartet review

In concert: The Penny Quartet performs at Yass Soldiers Memorial Hall. Photo by Peter Jones.
In concert: The Penny Quartet performs at Yass Soldiers Memorial Hall. Photo by Peter Jones.

The third and very well-attended concert of Yass Music Club's 2019 season was organised by Musica Viva and performed by the Penny Quartet, a youthful group of musicians of great talent and enthusiasm.

The club was saddened to have news of the death of Brian Johnson, a long-time member of the Music Club and its president from 2011 to 2015. Our condolences are with his wife, Nancy and their family.

The concert began with Sergei Prokofiev's String Quartet in B minor, op. 50 no. 1 in three movements - Allegro, Andante and Molto Andante - and we were able to appreciate the considerable interpretative talents of the group in this challenging piece, though possibly its modernism was a little less than attractive to some of the audience.

Multi-award-winning composer Joseph O'Connor's vignettes were clearly very special to the Pennys. He had written a tribute in them for each member of the quartet.

Wishing Dream featured the cello of Jack Ward; Choir Loft Maverick was special for the violin of Amy Brookman; Idle Talk was for violinist Madelaine Jevons and Filigree was most apt for the viola of Anthony Chataway. Each player revelled in the musical opportunities that their individual compositions gave to them.

A tasty afternoon tea was provided by Thyme to Taste and the CD raffle was won by Peter Applegate in the interval.

The second half of the concert began with Franz-Joseph Haydn's wonderful String Quartet in C major, The Emperor, and the skills of the group admirably captured its beauties with its exuberant first movement in sonata form. The Pennys were well-equipped to communicate its sense of dignified good humour.

The second movement, "Poco Adagio, Cantabile", which translates to "Rather Slow, Songlike" uses the elegant Emperor's Hymn as a basis for its complex variations. The third movement, Menuetto allegro, is written in a dance form and it closes with a sometimes strident, sometimes lilting, but invariably dramatic Finale: Presto theme written in sonata form.

The quartet gave a stirring rendition of this wonderful quartet from Haydn, the creator of the string quartet form itself, and their encore of J.S. Bach's Contrapunctus No. 2 was a delightful exercise in the counterpoint mode that is so much a feature of Bach's creativity.

All in all, the Penny Quartet provided the Yass Music Club with truly delightful and highly skilled entertainment.

Our next concert will be performed by the popular Grigoryan brothers, Slava and Leonard, on Sunday, August 11 at 2pm.

On Saturday, October 12 at 7.45pm the music club will have another performance provided by Musica Viva: the highly anticipated return of The Idea of North.

Looking ahead to 2020, we have arranged a program with a popular and varied selection of performers, beginning on Saturday, February 22 with Clemens Leske, pianist; on Saturday, March 28, The Canberra Bach Ensemble; Sunday, June 21, the Sarah Maclaine Jazz Trio; Sunday, August 16, Ay Pachanga (salsa); and on Saturday, October 24, the very welcome return of The Acacia Quartet, both latter through Musica Viva.