Iuventus Quartet

Formed in 2003, The Iuventus quartet has been hailed be the Irish Times as “startling”“Theirs was a purely musical approach – bracing, fearless and utterly engaging.” The Strad wrote of their “technical ease, sensitivity to style, elegance in phrasing and excellent intonation” and hailed their rendition of Janacek’s First Quartet as “powerfully communicated”. They have performed at venues throughout the UK, at the 2003- 2006 Chichester Festivities, and at the National Concert Hall in Dublin. The Iuventus Quartet was chosen for the Countess of Munster Recital Scheme and has played at music societies throughout the country. In another recent review, the Iuventus were described as “spellbinding”, bringing to the music “great expertise, dedication and superb musicianship”. The quartet has also played at the Buxton Festival, the Cambridge Summer Recital Series and St Martin-in-the-Fields, London. In 2008 they performed in Jakarta, Indonesia and Bangkok, Thailand and went on to give workshops to Burmese orphans in the refugee camps on the Thai-Burma border. The quartet also appears as part of the Iuventus Ensemble to allow for more imaginative programming.

REVIEWS OF IUVENTUS QUARTET CONCERTS:

“There were several “firsts” in the latest concert organised by the Stratford Chamber Music Society and given by that superb all-woman string quartet, the Iuventus, at the Shakespeare Institute on Sunday evening.

They played two first quartets – one by Beethoven and the other by Shostakovich. It was the first time they had performed the Beethoven – his Quartet in F major opus 18 no.1. And they also played for the first time Haydn’s Quartet in B flat major, opus 76 no. 4 “The Sunrise”.

It goes without saying that in neither case was there the slightest inkling that these young women were tackling, in public performance, quartets by these giants of the First Viennese School for the first time. Nor was it apparent that their viola player, Rose Redgrave, was on her first outing with the quartet.

This dizzying collection of “firsts” would be incomplete without adding another “first” – and that “first” is first-class.

One of the striking things about the Iuventus Quartet is the absolute rapport between the players. They are an ensemble in the strictest sense and the sheer pulse of their playing is dictated by the slightest of eye contact and by split- second knowing looks.

But the most telling of all is the body language. The members of the quartet are so obviously enjoying every moment of what they are doing that this ‘joie de vivre’ transmits itself to their audience.

The quartet by Haydn that began the concert was full of the Austrian maestro’s customary inventiveness and was given an eloquent and elegant reading. The Shostakovich – his Quartet no. 1 in C major opus 49 – was written in 1938. Despite being composed in what was effectively a Reign of Terror in Russia triggered by Stalin’s great purge of 1937 the music does not contain the darker elements associated with his later quartets. Again the Iuventus performed with bite and precision.

In the Beethoven that ended their programme the Iuventus gave a reading that was more akin to interacting with an old friend than going on an outing for the first time. They were especially luscious in the second movement, whose marking of ‘adagio affettuoso ed appassionato’ gives some clue to its romantic character.

The quartet’s leader, Ruth Rogers, said the Iuventus were glad to be returning to Stratford and hoped to be coming back again. Let’s hope their next visit is sooner rather than later.”

Preston Witts, Stratford-upon-Avon Herald (15th Feb 2007)

 

“When a young string quartet combines passion, exquisite warmth of tone and – when necessary – unbridled attack, you know you’re in the presence of something very special indeed.

Such was the experience of the audience at Stratford’s Shakespeare Institute on Sunday evening when the all-female Iuventus Quartet lavished on it some rich pickings from three of the greatest masters of the genre – Haydn, Beethoven and Schubert.

The Iuventus Quartet was formed as recently as 2003, but already it has the authority of a more seasoned ensemble. In fact, ensemble is a key word with these musicians. They are entirely at one – in continual joyous harmony – as they interact with smiles and knowing glances while demonstrating brilliant intonation and phrasing.

They began their Stratford Chamber Music Society concert with Haydn’s Quartet No. 1 in C Major from his Opus 74 set – a typically witty and innovative Haydn composition with an exuberance that perfectly matched that of the players themselves. This was four young women having a lot of fun with Papa Haydn!

It was followed by the last quartet of Beethoven’s Opus 18 set of six – the so-called ‘Early Quartets’. Here the Iuventus gave vent to the lush timbre of which they’re capable – especially in the last movement, which occasionally hints at the glories yet to come in the ‘Late Quartets’.

After the interval there was a short piece by the contemporary Scottish composer James MacMillan, ‘Memento’, written in 1994 in memory of a friend. But it was what came next that held the audience’s riveted attention – Schubert’s Quartet in D minor D810 “Death and the Maiden”.

This sublime music was ravishingly explored by these four young women. At times the explosive energy of their attack was reminiscent of that great string quartet of the 1930s, the Pro Arte Quartet. In the slow movement – which demands very great playing indeed – the dynamics and the tempo were as near to perfection as it is possible to be.

The Iuventus finished this great quartet in a flourish of helter skelter musicianship – the last movement is, after all, marked ‘Presto’ – and got the massive applause they so richly deserved.

Preston Witts, Stratford-upon-Avon Herald (17th Nov 2005)

 

“Iuventus Quartet – St Martin-in-the-Fields, 24th August 2004. This youthful female ensemble is formed of up-and-coming artists trained at London colleges and on the evidence of this concert, it’s a background that has served them well. Technical ease, sensitivity to style, elegance in phrasing and excellent intonation were all apparent at the start of Janacek’s Quartet No. 1. Tempo changes were negotiated with sure helmsmanship and the work’s melancholy and intensity were powerfully communicated. In Haydn’s ‘Policeman’ Quartet op. 77 no.1, the group really etched a sense of character and humour into the phrases – and here leader Ruth Rogers deserves special mention, bringing energy and brilliance to the taxing first violin part and enjoying the ebullient musical dialogue with the cello in the first movement.”

Joanne Talbot, The Strad Magazine