For thoughts on the first and second semi-finals plus the names of final quartets competing in the Wigmore Hall International String Quartets final on Sunday 15 April 2018 read this update where you'll also find links to the catch-up and live streams.
The Wigmore Hall String Quartet competition got underway this week with a series of preliminary rounds at the Royal Academy of Music.
I intended to get along to all of the prelims, but for one reason or another wasn't able to. What I ended up hearing was unfamiliar music, and three new quartets I'd not heard before: the Eliot, Gildas, and Callisto string quartets.
None of those quartets made it through to the semi-finals. That says something about the impact my presence in the concert hall has on the chances of success for musicians in a competition. Pity the three quartets I'll watch at Wigmore Hall in this afternoon's semi-final. On that basis, it's probably best to put your money on the three quartets appearing in the second semi-final this evening that I'll be watching via the live stream on YouTube. Much safer for them, I'm sure.
Joking aside, I've really enjoyed the process of listening to the prelim rounds I've attended. It's a great way to hear unfamiliar repertoire. The atmosphere (for the audience at least) is relaxed, and once again, I've appreciated the way in which variety of playing styles between quartets heightens attentive listening.
I'm going to write a post collating my observations from the competition on Monday. But in the meantime what I've found really interesting is that my experience of competition isn't so much a sense that one quartet is better than the other, rather that as an audience member and auditorium pundit, I'm essentially pitting myself against the panel. Look how that turned out.
The semi-finalists are: The Goldmund Quartett, the Marmen Quaret (recent winners of the Royal Over Seas League Ensemble final), the Quatuor Tchalik, the Esmé Quartet, the Quartet Amabile and the Viano Quartet
The Wigmore Hall String Quartet Competition continues on Saturday 14 April at 2.00pm and 7.30pm, streamed live on the Wigmore Hall YouTube channel. The finalists are announced at approximately 10.30pm. The final is on Sunday 15 April at 7.30pm and is also streamed live.