On 13 March 2024 the Goldner String Quartet will perform Carl Vine’s String Quartet No.5 at the Adelaide Festival, as part of their valedictory final concert season together after thirty years of activity. The concert explores music from Australian composers championed by the quartet in the first decade of the new Millennium.
The ensemble premiered Vine’s 22-minute quartet in 2007 at the Huntington Estate Music Festival, where Vine served as Artistic Director from 2006-2019. Vine describes the piece as a ‘fantasia’. Cast in one movement with six distinct sections, it grows from an ethereal, dreamlike opening into a series of dramatic and vivid contrasts of mood and material. They will also perform the piece twice at the Melbourne Recital Centre on 31 October.
In 2012 the Goldner String Quartet recorded Vine’s string quartets for ABC Classics. They also gave the Australian premiere of Vine’s piano quintet Fantasia at the Huntington Festival in 2014 with Bernadette Harvey, and, at the same Festival, premiered a new version of his String Quintet (2010) with Florian Eggner in 2015.
A second concert at the Adelaide Festival on 15 March showcases works by Matthew Hindson and Peter Sculthorpe, this time focusing on music from the 2010s. The quartet previously turned to both composers for their (belated) 25th anniversary season celebrations, touring several of their pieces across Australia. Their Adelaide Festival performance concludes with Hindson’s Celebration (String Quartet No.5), which they premiered in 2017 at the Australian Festival of Chamber Music. Cast in one movement, the 10-minute work begins with tentative, plaintive melodic fragments for violin, cello, and viola in turn, before an energised Vivace section ensues, built on a march-like rhythmic motif. All hint of restraint is gone as the piece approaches its triumphant conclusion, growing ever more ecstatic.
They also perform "A Land Singing" and "Postlude" from Sculthorpe’s String Quartet No.18 (2010), his final contribution to the genre and another work in Sculthorpe’s catalogue that expresses his anxieties about climate change. “A land singing”, the second movement of the 20-minute work, draws on the energetic Indigenous chant Windmill, juxtaposed with episodes derived from it that suggest didjeridu patterns (an instrument included in the version recorded by the Del Sol Quartet in 2014, played by Stephen Kent). “Postlude” concludes the Quartet with two statements of the bittersweet hymn tune O God, our help in ages past. Sung on national days of morning and regularly in Aboriginal communities, the hymn provides the comfort of hope for the future, tempering the work’s elegiac reflection on the state of the environment.
The Goldner Quartet have given over one hundred performances of Sculthorpe’s various quartets and chamber works and gave the first London performance of String Quartet No.18 at the in 2011 at the City of London Festival, broadcast on BBC Radio 3. They have recorded his complete quartets across three albums for Tall Poppies, as well as a DVD release for ABC Classics featuring Nos 6-8, 11, 12, 14, 15, and 18 as part of a documentary on the then 83-year-old composer.