Navarra Quartet wins Third Prize at Banff competition

3 September 2013

We are delighted that the Navarra Quartet took Third Prize at the Banff International String Quartet Competition in Canada, which includes a residency at The Banff Centre’s Music & Sound program as well as $8,000 cash.

Read the fantastic reviews the Quartet has received:

“And we cannot forget the Navarra Quartet, who gave us so many memorable performances this past week, including a moving and brilliant reading of Vivian Fung’s Quartet No. 3, and a masterly accounting of Britten’s Third String Quartet that will stay with me forever. Their interpretation of the Beethoven Razumovsky E minor quartet was replete with nuanced dynamics and articulation, ultimately scaffolding a sense of phrasing that was constantly supple, and never overworked. Perhaps what I appreciated most about Navarra’s playing, both yesterday and throughout the competition, was that they led me to always wonder what would happen next. Even though one may already know the notes full well of a given piece, I always came away with the sense that Navarra had something new to teach me every time I listened to them.”
Stephan Bonfield, Calgary Herald

“When the Navarra Quartet (UK/Ireland/the Netherlands) took their places as the fifth group and last to play before intermission, I was quite unprepared for how they would interpret Ms. Fung’s score. Over the years, denizens of this tri-ennial competition know that ten quartets will likely give ten vastly different offerings of the CBC/Banff Centre co-commissioned work, that it will be challenging but still idiomatically written for strings, difficult to execute, and filled with interpretively dangerous waters which these young artists must navigate. But I was not expecting the wonderful reading given by the Navarra Quartet.

In their accounting, I could also recall Ms. Fung’s eloquent anguish during her pre-concert talk over the Connecticut school shootings whose reports we horribly witnessed last year, in addition to the tremendous world conflict that she was documenting, relevant at this moment in Syria, all against a backdrop of her own personal revelations about her family’s history and its journeys of struggle. Indeed, this work could one day be nicknamed along the lines of String Quartet No. 3 - the “Dark Journeys” quartet.

Navarra Quartet transfixed me with its beautiful conveyance of the composer’s interior world immediately from the start when they played the opening cluster chord.

They understood the Middle Eastern prayer sections and the mixed narratives inspired by Schnittke’s chamber works (one of Ms. Fung’s favourite composers and one of mine too), which often contain scalding evocations of confronting mortality. These were juxtaposed frequently with slower sections that could be heard as chordal echoes of the transcendent mystical parallelism found in many of Messaien’s compositions, which required pellucid playing. Contrasting textured sections were frequently punctuated by furious bowing, glissandi, bowslap, rapid arpeggiation, and a whole host of requisite idiomatic features demanded of the performers.”
Stephan Bonfield, Calgary Herald

“the Navarra Quartet brought me to tears with Benjamin Britten’s String Quartet No. 3, from 1975. They captured his slow and at times angry dance with mortality with remarkably tightly contained power.”
Musical Toronto

You can listen to the Navarra Quartet’s performances at Banff here.

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