Sigiswald Kuijken is a figure of considerable mana in the field of authentic baroque performance. The 73-year-old Belgian violinist has collaborated with the likes of Gustav Leonhardt and Rene Jacobs, while his ensemble, La Petite Bande, was a leader in its field.
Although the Kuijken String Quartet has also garnered respect during three decades, its Auckland concert was somewhat underwhelming.
Mozart's A major Quartet K 464 revealed contentious issues that did not go away, including inconsistencies of articulation and balance, coupled with the often alarming intonation of Kuijken himself.
By the time we got to Haydn's endlessly inventive Opus 33 no 2, its nickname of The Joke might have described Kuijken's rough handling of its scherzo's trio; this is a pity as I've always imagined this whimsical little dance showing the composer, trapped in the country, longing for the sophistication of Vienna.
Some audience around me did not stay for the second half, and Mozart's K 575 offered no surprises or revelations, while a Haydn encore was far too dependent on Kuijken's tired solo lines.
Still, every musician can have an "off" night. Perhaps Kuijken will fare better next Wednesday (July 19), playing unaccompanied Bach in the smaller venue of the Auckland Town Hall concert chamber, revisiting the sonatas and partitas that he recorded so magnificently back in 1983.
What: Kuijken Quartet
Where: Auckland Town Hall
Reviewer: William Dart