Vertavo Quartet at London’s Wigmore Hall

One of Norway’s most exciting strings ensembles of today, the Vertavo Quartet returns to London for a performance at the Wigmore Hall.

Listen to and download releases by Vertavo String Quartet here

Vertavokvartetten, 2004 (Foto: Yvonne Holth)

Founded by four friends more than twenty years ago, in 1984, Vertavo has risen to the absolute pinnacle of international classical music, reaping utmost acclaim for their frequent tours and not least for their recordings

Vertavo String Quartet had their true international breakthrough at the Melbourne International Chamber Music Competition in 1995, at which they took home all prizes that were on offer. Since then the awards and accolades have been of the most prestigious kind, and numerous; including Nordic Chamber Music Prize (1996), the Critics' Prize from the Norwegian press (1996), a nomination for the Nordic Council's Culture Award in 1998 and the Nordea prize in 2003. And in 2005 they received the Greg prize, Norway’s most prominent award for classical music bestowed on an artist of high international standing and of which former recipients include Leif Ove Andsnes, Truls Mørk and the Grieg Trio.

The 2006/7 season saw them make their debuts at the prestigious venues of Vienna’s Musikverein and New York’s Weill Recital Hall in Carnegie Hall. And they have further performed at London’s Wigmore Hall, Paris, Geneva, Vevey, Bolzano, Alicante and Hamburg. In the USA they have toured both the East and West Coasts, with appearances for the Corvallis Chamber Music Series, concerts and workshops at Chamber Music Concerts Ashland, Oregon, University of Seattle series, Da Camera Chamber Music Society of Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, San Antonio and Vancouver chamber series.

A quartet naturally relies on individual performances, but most of all on communication and the ability to condense in to one musical being. And it is in this respect that Vertavo truly stand out: a function, they will often remind us, of being not only musical partners but personal friends, and of having formed on that basis a long time ago when they were all very young. Vertavo is a Quartet whose achievements have been reached as a group, and where the individual levels of excellence have come to full bloom within that format.

The communication they display on stage has caused critics to use the word ‘telepathy’ and the sense of synthesis; of one mind; one being with eight hands, is nothing less than unique. At the same time there is freshness, youth and adventure to their way of making music, - traits that appear perhaps most clearly in the quartet’s continuous affinity with contemporary music, which has earned them many triumphs and not least many pieces written for them specifically.

Vertavo’s list of recordings is long and diverse. But their recording of Bela Bartók’s complete string quartets from 2001 still stands out perhaps. It was hailed as a something of a milestone recording, and an awesome achievement by the Norwegian quartet. More recently the record Les Vendredis, from 2005, was thus described by Roderic Dunnet of The Strad:

"These are utterly beautiful readings of rare Russian repertory that might easily pass unnoticed. The music is enchantment itself. But it is the yearning feel of these performances that makes one sense also the folk idiom from which Tchaikovsky-and all else that is glorious in 19th-century Russian music-sprang.

Wrote the Sunday Times’ Paul Driver following the Quartet’s performance at the Northern Chamber Music Festival in January: "The second of Schoenberg’s four quartets was given by the Vertavo Quartet, four (female) Norwegians who have been together for 20 years, and whose reading combined passion and clarity, intellect and emotion, in true Schoenbergian fashion. This is the quartet that parallels Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony by dramatically introducing the human voice into the realm of abstraction. The last two movements set poems by Stefan George, whose line “Ich fühle Luft von anderen Planeten” (“I feel air of other planets”) seems to usher in the world of atonality. The soprano Nadine Livingston, an RNCM postgraduate, projected these intricate and atmospheric settings with much sensitivity. "

The Vertavo Quartet's performances are universally crisp and exciting. They contain plenty of adrenalin and magic, and these four young ladies from Oslo make one of the most bracing chamber music sounds I have heard in years.

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