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1 June 2021, 17:06 | Updated: 1 June 2021, 17:16
When four young talent show contestants gave Shostakovich’s chamber music a long overdue moment in the spotlight.
Here’s the moment Norway’s Got Talent found an unexpected ‘Golden Buzzer’ moment in the shape of a pint-sized string quartet, and an electric piece of 20th-century chamber music.
Talent shows haven’t been short of impressive classical and operatic audition tapes – we’ve seen break-dancing classical pianists, self-duetting Andrea Bocelli fans and at least one terrifyingly young soprano soloist with a penchant for Puccini.
But chamber music remains relatively untrodden territory.
In 2019, young string quartet Kvartett Saphir (‘Sapphire Quartet’ in English) entered Norway’s Got Talent, and were showered with a Golden Buzzer for their thrilling interpretation of a Shostakovich symphony (watch below).
The judge who gave them the golden buzzer said: “It’s impressive how much anger you can convey in a piece of music.”
Kvartett Saphir, made up of Philippe Jayer, Torje Råbu and Amanda Noor Vatn on violin and viola, and Iris Kalliovirta on cello, play the ‘Allegro molto’, the second movement of the Soviet composer’s Chamber Symphony in C minor, with magnetic intensity and sensitivity.
The four young players got through to the Semi-Finals of the competition, sadly being dropped just before the final round.
But their performance has since garnered viral attention – notably in the form of a commentary from string duo Brett and Eddy, AKA TwoSet Violin.
“They’re actually musicians, they’re musically trained,” Brett says in the pair’s video commentary, which has more than 800,000 views on YouTube. “They’re not faking any actions or exaggerating anything.
“Norway’s got it right,” the violinist asserts.
Eddy also praises the young musicians’ choice of repertoire, saying: “You often hear classical musicians saying chamber music is where it’s at.
“Chamber music, especially a string quartet, is this twilight zone where you need […] moments of soloistic playing, and moments of ensemble blending.”
Watch their full performance below. What a brilliant moment to relive. At the time of their performance, the four players were students at Barratt Due’s Young Talents, alongside their solo and orchestral work. For the 2020-2021 season, Kvartett Saphir was the youngest quartet in the talent program Young Quartet Series.