Hailing from Romania, the Arcadia String Quartet cut a broad swathe through the string quartet literature in their programme, clearly designed to showcase their abilities.
Haydn's Op. 76 No. 5 is most notable for its lyrical Largo movement, written in the unusual key of F# major.
Overall, the quartet handled the work very adeptly, though the opening movement was perhaps a touch too spirited for its own good. Nevertheless, the other movements were performed brilliantly; the aforementioned Largo was suitably tender.
Janáček's first string quartet has The Kreutzer Sonata, a novella by Tolstoy, as its inspiration and also alludes to Beethoven's violin sonata of the same name.
The psychological depth and obsessiveness characteristic of the Czech's works were well conveyed by the quartet. In particular, I was thrilled by the ease with which they balanced the spiky, glassy tremolandi with the melancholic and lyrical passages.
After the interval was a performance of Romanian Adrian Pop's Le Seda y el metal. The work is inspired by the love poetry of Nobel Prize laureate Pablo Neruda.
Despite the quartet's enthusiasm for their countryman's work, it was difficult to discern the Chilean's celebrated poetics in the music and it referenced too many styles indiscriminately. All in all, it struck me as a rather confused essay in musical postmodernism.
Debussy's sole offering to the genre was passionately rendered by the quartet, though they showed how capable they were of the required grace and nuance, particularly in the middle movements. An electrifying finale capped off an assured performance.