January 27, 2001 |
The St. Lawrence Quartet telegraphed more than a few warnings to its Thursday night audience that all was not to be conventional. Even if the opening selection was the well-behaved String Quartet No. 9 in G minor by the teenage Schubert, the performance's deep concentration, spasmodic leg movements, and the we-slept-in-our-clothes look of the two unkempt male members was not what you encounter when the Tokyo Quartet, for example, is on hand. Then came String Quartet No. 3 (1981)
June 23, 2000 |
The Delaware Chamber Music Festival concludes its 15th season with concerts Saturday, Sunday and Tuesday at the Wilmington Music School in Wilmington. Barbara Govatos, the festival's music director, is a violinist in the Philadelphia Orchestra, and festival artists include orchestra colleagues of hers, musicians she has met at other festivals, and outstanding rising young musicians such as clarinetist Igor Begelman, who recently was awarded an Avery Fisher Career Grant. Begelman will join festival musicians Tuesday in Beethoven's Septet (Op. 20)
April 11, 2000 |
In the chamber music world, new string quartets are often thought to be the one-stop domain of the restlessly modern Kronos Quartet. But Kronos misses much, as suggested by the Takacs Quartet's foray into new music with Bright Sheng's String Quartet No. 3. The piece's local debut on Friday was part of an ongoing Takacs commitment to the piece, which the quartet premiered in 1993. That reflects remarkable devotion, and the reason is obvious: The music grows out of the great string quartet tradition with unforced freshness and communicative imagination.
April 7, 2000 |
Though innocently and generically titled String Quartet No. 3, the piece by Chinese American composer Bright Sheng that's receiving its local premiere tonight is a model for something larger and nastier. This eventful, mercurial, excitable one-movement work - performed by the Takacs Quartet - is based on not-quite-remembered Tibetan folk dances the composer encountered while in provincial exile from Shanghai during Chairman Mao's Cultural Revolution. But now, seven years after finishing the piece, the quartet is pointing the way toward an opera he wants to write on an explosive subject: Madame Mao. "This woman's life is fascinating," Sheng said.
February 23, 2000 |
A lot of what is getting said about Thomas Ades these days sounds suspiciously like hype. British critics, in particular, are prone to talking about his being poised to occupy a spot in 21st-century music similar to the spot held by Britten in the 20th, or even Beethoven in his time. Of course, it's hard for us in this far-flung colony to tell, given the relative rarity with which Ades' works are performed here. Now 28, Ades has an impressive 26 works under his belt (at last count)
July 11, 1999 |
Twelve passengers boarded the Redtail Aviation planes on that bright July morning at Grand Junction, Colo., to be deposited an hour's flying time away in a barren area of Utah. One of those passengers was a cello. When you travel with a cello, you buy the cello a seat. Hannah was the cellist. She admitted later that she didn't actually mention to the rental clerk in the musical instrument store in Denver that she was taking the cello on a 100-mile white-water rafting trip on Utah's Green River, one of the most remote and inacessible places in the continental United States.
December 12, 1998 |
The American String Quartet came to the Convention Center Thursday to play quintets with the help of violist Michael Tree and cellist David Soyer, members of the Guarneri Quartet. Adding outsiders to a society as tight as a string quartet can be musically problematic, but in this program the outsiders contributed without stylistic clashes. The program included quintets by Mozart, who wrote for two violas in his, and Schubert, who opted for two cellos. Closing with Schubert's Quintet in C, the ensemble cast Soyer as the key second cello, a part that includes the pizzicato solos in the second movement.
November 17, 1998 |
The women of the Moscow String Quartet play as if they had all the time in the world: Their music pours forth with such focus. It moves so patiently. Concentrated leisure is an ideal quality for the Borodin Quartet in A major that the Moscow presented Sunday afternoon at the Convention Center. Alexander Borodin was a chemist first and a composer second, one who astonishingly claimed that his music was an extravagance written for his own relaxation. The Moscow's interpretation of this keenly shaded work featured such leisurely tempos that it evoked Tolstoy's description in Anna Karenina of a time-suspended harvest.
November 4, 1998 |
All composers create. A few invent. Connecticut Yankee Charles Ives pioneered a polytonal style, Californian Harry Partch made unique operas with his own odd instruments, New Yorker John Cage organized noise into concept-music. And who before West Virginia-reared, Philadelphia-claimed George Crumb would electrify a string quartet that also plays with water? Three sets of stemware are bowed by the violinists and violist in the quartet Black Angels (Thirteen Images from a Dark Land)
October 19, 1998 |
The Philadelphia Chamber Music Society has a devout and seasoned following. So many of its presentations sell out of the 500-seat hall it calls home at the Pennsylvania Convention Center hall that the society has gotten used to bringing out the folding chairs. Five rows of extra chairs were required for the Tokyo String Quartet's performance Friday night, making the atmosphere in the cordial chamber intimate indeed. The Tokyo is performing this fall without its longtime cellist Sadao Harada.