The prestigious Banff International String Quartet Competition has given a critical boost
to the careers of many of its winners. When the Viano String Quartet won first prize at
the 2019 edition of the competition, they joined an elite fraternity/sorority of musicians.
One of the perks of winning first prize, besides the financial reward, is the winner’s tour
that is created by the Banff committee. This provides valuable experience and exposure
to a wide audience for such ascendant artists. For the first time, The Valley Concert
Society has been invited to host a concert as part of the winner’s tour. And so, it is with
great disappointment that we mark Thursday, April 22, as the day that the Viano String
Quartet had been scheduled to grace the stage of the Matsqui Centennial Auditorium.
The ensemble is quartet-in-residence at the Colburn Conservatory in Los Angeles, CA.
There they are well acquainted with Paul Williamson of Mission, BC, who is a fellow
Violinist Lucy Wang is a Vancouver native and cellist Tate Zawadiuk grew up in
Coquitlam. Violinist Hao Zhou and violist Aiden Kane are both American. For more
information about these exceptionally talented musicians, visit the quartet’s website.
To give you a taste of their artistry, I am including a link to their performance of
Beethoven’s String Quartet, No. 9, Op. 59, No. 3 from the final round of the Banff
competition. This quartet is the third of three that were commissioned from Beethoven by
Count Razumovsky, the Russian ambassador to Vienna, himself a fine violinist and
patron of the arts.
After a slow, suspenseful opening, the first movement bursts into a joyous allegro. The
plucked cello gives an unsettled feeling to the introspective second movement. In the
short third movement, the gracious minuet, which reminds me of Haydn, contrasts with
the staccato trio, but both feel uplifting. After a very short pause, the finale is simply a
wild ride to a dramatic conclusion. This composition challenges all the talents of the
musicians and is a worthy test of a winner.
Enjoy this and other YouTube performances of a young string quartet on the rise.
The Valley Concert Society