The exciting classical quintet ZRI demonstrated their superior craftmanship to Peak Music audiences playing with an exquisite intensity rarely seen. The quintet, which takes its name from Zum Roten Igel (or The Red Hedgehog), the legendary Viennese venue in the times when Brahms and Schubert were alive, delivered a very technically demanding program of Brahms and Ukrainian Gypsy music where their instrumental passions shone through. The theme of the slow movement of Brahms’ popular Clarinet Quintet is based on the notes of F, A and E, a shorthand for “Frei, aber einsam” (Free, but lonely). ZRI’s interpretation painted a picture of Brahms reflecting on his troubled romantic life whilst forgetting his woes in the wild gypsy music of the taverns.
As one member put it: “Wow, what a weird and wonderful evening of music we experienced last night. Why weird? Well the concert blended traditional folk music with the classical, almost melancholy, Brahms. The juncture between the two musical genres created a compelling narrative for the audience. ZRI are a superbly talented group of musicians but topping them was the unusual instrument, the santouri, expertly played by Iris Pissaride. The delicate and emotive sounds that she conjured from this traditional instrument were simply magical.” And another long-standing member, familiar with Klezmer music from having lived in Romania, enthusiastically told ZRI that “they were the best quintet she had heard at a Peak Music concert”. You can judge for yourself in the video clip above!
It was undoubtedly exciting to listen to but for some the showmanship was spoilt by missed opportunities to help the audience engage with the spectacle in the intimate Cavendish Hall setting. The concert, reduced to one hour due to COVID-19 restrictions and the need for two concerts, felt rushed and too short, robbing the audience of a level of enjoyment that normal concert staging could and would have delivered.
Oh for normal times!