Eloquent, spellbinding, monumental, exquisite—how else can we describe the Esmé Quartet? Musica Viva Australia’s Artistic Director Paul Kildea explains that he fell in love with this young ensemble who play with 'such tenderness, such virtuosity, such musicality.' He wanted to showcase them to Australian audiences with some of the best-loved quartet music in the repertoire.  

Esmé opens their Australian debut with Webern’s heart-on-sleeve Langsamer Satz. Written in 1905, rediscovered in 1960, and still magical in 2024, the work is a love letter to his fiancée, redolent of meadow flowers and sunny skies. Its luscious romanticism belies the atonality that underpinned the composer’s later works. 

Violinists Wonhee Bae, Yuna Ha, violist Dimitri Murrath and cellist Yeeun Heo will then turn to Mendelssohn’s String Quartet No. 2. Mendelssohn also wrote this in the flush of young love, but at the fresh age of 18, he was at the peak of his prodigious powers. He’d already penned a series of mature masterpieces—the Octet and Midsummer Night’s Dream Overture—but in this quartet, we discover a stormy and passionate Mendelssohn, evoking the spirit of Beethoven’s late quartets.  
Paul Kildea wanted to feature a work from the US-based Australian composer Jack Frerer amid this traditional program. Spiral Sequences, portrays a world in two movements: the first is frantic and pulsating, the second a slow, introspective meditation.  
To close their program, Esmé will finish with Debussy’s only contribution to the world of the string quartet. Tough but sensuous, nostalgic yet exotic, it became an instant classic and set the string quartet on a new path. 

Since winning the 2018 International String Quartet Competition at London's Wigmore Hall, the Esmé Quartet have been waking up the world with their exciting and insightful performances of much-loved masterworks. Join us, and discover why everyone loves Esmé. 

Esmé Quartet tours to Perth, Adelaide, Sydney, Newcastle, Canberra, Brisbane and Melbourne from April 29.