iuventus ensemble

Iuventus QuartetPress

"Matchless performance from four virtuosos"

"If you wanted to know how classical musicians enjoy a girls’ night out, then you needed only to have watched the Iuventus Quartet having a real ball as they zipped through the finale of Haydn’s C major Quartet, Op 74 No 1, making light work of the brilliant and demanding writing, yet achieved with quite amazing accuracy. But even from the outset, there was a real sensation that this wasn’t going to be just another concert-opener from the composer’s prolific pen.

There could then have been scarcely a greater contrast than Ravel’s String Quartet, but here the players showed themselves equally adept in luxuriating in the work’s opulent textures and sonorities, from the heartfelt pathos of the slow movement, to the high spirits and rhythmic complexities of the finale.

But if the matchless quality of the performance had so far left the audience somewhat taken aback, the final work, Schubert’s Death and the Maiden Quartet, clearly surpassed even this. The work presents a challenge, not just technically, but more so emotionally, if the composer’s delicate yet vital psychological balance is to be precisely conveyed. It takes genuine maturity to bring this off, and here Ruth Rogers’s superb musicianship and lead encouraged the finest possible response from her fellow-players, in a quartet performance that must surely rank amongst the best heard in the city for many years."

PHILIP R BUTTALL, Herald (Plymouth)

Togetherness was almost uncanny

The Iuventus quartet, led by Ruth Rogers, (two violins, viola and cello), gave a splendid concert at Weymouth college.

The musicians began with an early Tchaikovsky quartet opus 11 in D. The played with great precision, deep feeling, and a togetherness that was almost uncanny. The slow movement had two gorgeous tunes, both familiar - Russian folk songs. There was plenty of foot-tapping moments in the last movement.

What followed was a real surprise. Some people find the composer Janacek (1854-1928) difficult. Impossible after the excellent explanation of the quartet no. 1 - the Kreutzer Sonata.

It tells the tale of a husband who, imagining himself betrayed by his wife (a violinist) with her male piano accompanist, works himself into such a fury that he murders her. "Note after note fell smouldering from my pen", wrote Janacek. Anger, aggression, distortion succeed each other, finally arriving at a catharsis of peace. A most exciting performance.

In the final work, Schubert's string Quintet in C, the players were joined by a second cellist, Nicholas Holland. This quintet must rank as one of the greatest chamber works ever written, especially perhaps the sublime slow movement. Yet, even though he was dying, Schubert could follow this by the most joyful of scherzos. Again, the artistes played these masterpieces absolutely beautifully, and sent us all out on a high.

The Iuventus Quartet
Weymouth College Theatre
by Janet Ferrett

“There were several “firsts” in the latest concert organised by the Stratford Chamber Music Society and given by that superb all-woman string quartet, the Iuventus, at the Shakespeare Institute on Sunday evening.

They played two first quartets – one by Beethoven and the other by Shostakovich. It was the first time they had performed the Beethoven – his Quartet in F major opus 18 no.1. And they also played for the first time Haydn’s Quartet in B flat major, opus 76 no. 4 “The Sunrise”.

It goes without saying that in neither case was there the slightest inkling that these young women were tackling, in public performance, quartets by these giants of the First Viennese School for the first time. Nor was it apparent that their viola player, Rose Redgrave, was on her first outing with the quartet.

This dizzying collection of “firsts” would be incomplete without adding another “first” – and that “first” is first-class.

One of the striking things about the Iuventus Quartet is the absolute rapport between the players. They are an ensemble in the strictest sense and the sheer pulse of their playing is dictated by the slightest of eye contact and by split- second knowing looks.

But the most telling of all is the body language. The members of the quartet are so obviously enjoying every moment of what they are doing that this ‘joie de vivre’ transmits itself to their audience.

The quartet by Haydn that began the concert was full of the Austrian maestro’s customary inventiveness and was given an eloquent and elegant reading. The Shostakovich – his Quartet no. 1 in C major opus 49 – was written in 1938. Despite being composed in what was effectively a Reign of Terror in Russia triggered by Stalin’s great purge of 1937 the music does not contain the darker elements associated with his later quartets. Again the Iuventus performed with bite and precision.

In the Beethoven that ended their programme the Iuventus gave a reading that was more akin to interacting with an old friend than going on an outing for the first time. They were especially luscious in the second movement, whose marking of ‘adagio affettuoso ed appassionato’ gives some clue to its romantic character. The quartet’s leader, Ruth Rogers, said the Iuventus were glad to be returning to Stratford and hoped to be coming back again. Let’s hope their next visit is sooner rather than later.”

Preston Witts, Stratford-upon-Avon Herald (15th Feb 2007)

“When a young string quartet combines passion, exquisite warmth of tone and – when necessary – unbridled attack, you know you’re in the presence of something very special indeed.

Such was the experience of the audience at Stratford’s Shakespeare Institute on Sunday evening when the all-female Iuventus Quartet lavished on it some rich pickings from three of the greatest masters of the genre – Haydn, Beethoven and Schubert.

The Iuventus Quartet was formed as recently as 2003, but already it has the authority of a more seasoned ensemble. In fact, ensemble is a key word with these musicians. They are entirely at one – in continual joyous harmony – as they interact with smiles and knowing glances while demonstrating brilliant intonation and phrasing.

They began their Stratford Chamber Music Society concert with Haydn’s Quartet No. 1 in C Major from his Opus 74 set – a typically witty and innovative Haydn composition with an exuberance that perfectly matched that of the players themselves. This was four young women having a lot of fun with Papa Haydn!

It was followed by the last quartet of Beethoven’s Opus 18 set of six – the so-called ‘Early Quartets’. Here the Iuventus gave vent to the lush timbre of which they’re capable – especially in the last movement, which occasionally hints at the glories yet to come in the ‘Late Quartets’.

After the interval there was a short piece by the contemporary Scottish composer James MacMillan, ‘Memento’, written in 1994 in memory of a friend. But it was what came next that held the audience’s riveted attention – Schubert’s Quartet in D minor D810 “Death and the Maiden”.

This sublime music was ravishingly explored by these four young women. At times the explosive energy of their attack was reminiscent of that great string quartet of the 1930s, the Pro Arte Quartet. In the slow movement – which demands very great playing indeed – the dynamics and the tempo were as near to perfection as it is possible to be.

The Iuventus finished this great quartet in a flourish of helter skelter musicianship – the last movement is, after all, marked ‘Presto’ – and got the massive applause they so richly deserved.”

Preston Witts, Stratford-upon-Avon Herald (17th Nov 2005)

“Iuventus Quartet – St Martin-in-the-Fields, 24th August 2004.

This youthful female ensemble is formed of up-and-coming artists trained at London colleges and on the evidence of this concert, it’s a background that has served them well. Technical ease, sensitivity to style, elegance in phrasing and excellent intonation were all apparent at the start of Janacek’s Quartet No. 1. Tempo changes were negotiated with sure helmsmanship and the work’s melancholy and intensity were powerfully communicated. In Haydn’s ‘Policeman’ Quartet op. 77 no.1, the group really etched a sense of character and humour into the phrases – and here leader Ruth Rogers deserves special mention, bringing energy and brilliance to the taxing first violin part and enjoying the ebullient musical dialogue with the cello in the first movement.”

Joanne Talbot, The Strad Magazine