Review: Pavel Haas Quartet *****

At Halifax Square Chapel

"Take note: this is one of the most polished and musically exciting young string quartets in the world today," declared the Washington Post of the Prague-based Pavel Haas Quartet, and at their Halifax Philharmonic Club concert you could hear why.

They are acutely sensitive to each other and have the perfect ensemble you would expect from a quartet coached, in their earliest days, by the Smetana Quartet's legendary Milan Skampa.

Their approach is Beethovenian, full-on, grabbing you by the scruff of the neck, not squeamish about making a raw sound now and then when the music calls for it, and all done with that special Czech rhythmic bounce.

Their programme showed off their versatility and phenomenal tonal range. Britten's Three Divertimenti were precocious student pieces precociously played with a nod towards Walton in his cheeky Sitwell days.

In Ravel's Quartet, another student piece, the players demonstrated a range of colours from shimmering silver to darkest purple, one moment fizzing with electricity and the next spinning ethereal filigree.

Schubert's Quartettsatz was dramatic, agitated and tinged with a foreboding stirred up by its relentless ostinato accompaniment.

The players evoked the relaxed sensuous nature of Dvorak's Op 96 F major Quartet, rejoicing in its potent rhythmic inventions as well as its gorgeous melodies.