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New Zealan String Quartet
The New Zealand String Quartet

 

The New Zealand String Quartet performs music of Zoltan Szekely

 

The New Zealand String Quartet has been awarded three years' sole performing rights to the long-neglected 1937 String Quartet by Zoltan Szekely, former leader of the Hungarian Quartet and dedicatee of Bartok's Violin Concerto No.2.

The substantial eight-movement work had never been performed until December 1999, when the down-under group, whose cellist Rolf Gjelsten and violinist Douglas Beilman studied with Szekely, gave its world premiere. It took place at Canada's Banff Centre for the Arts, where Szekely, now 98, has lived for three decades.

The group first saw the handwritten manuscript in July 1999. 'We were all thrilled with the work,' Gjelsten remembers. 'The style is unique, displaying great originality, deep expression, and wild virtuosity. Some passages are reminiscent of Bartok, others recall Kodaly; the rest only Szekely's imagination could conceive.'

'As we played the quartet it was like entering a time tunnel' leader Helene Pohl says.'Szekely wrote as storm clouds of war gathered over Europe; somehow the music took us to that time and the work's conception.'

The group plans to tour the work throughout Europe and the US in 2001 and record it before the sole rights expire, in 2002.
© Howard Smith, Page 1049, STRAD (London), October 2000.