Beethoven’s String Quartet in C-sharp Minor is widely considered to be one of the composer’s most challenging chamber works. With its innovative seven-movement structure and expansive emotional terrain, it subverts the expectations of the classical string quartet and makes some virtuosic demands on its performers.

Symonds Beethoven

Symonds Beethoven, Australian String Quartet, 2022. Photo © Kane Moroney

But despite the gravitas associated with the work, the Australian String Quartet gave it a refreshingly light and nuanced interpretation in its Adelaide Town Hall concert, bringing out many sublime colours across all the many movements of the piece, with tastefully-restrained use of vibrato and an impressive dynamic range. There was beautiful clarity and precision even in the dramatic sections, and the humorous moments were brought out to great effect.

Jack Symonds’ new string quartet – commissioned by ASQ and having its world premiere here – was an excellent counterpart to Beethoven’s Opus 131 in its scale and intensity. It comprises two complementary parts – an abnormality of growth and a continuity of paradoxes, each of which consists of several short but densely packed movements. In his introduction to the work, Symonds spoke about exploring...