students Charlie Cromer, left, Paia LaPalombara and Erin Silvert-Noftle
rehearsing a scene for the high school's fall play, 'Inspecting
Carol,' which opens next weekend, Nov. 21-24, at the Antioch Theater.
sense of beauty, emotion
By David Mirkin
Playing at the concert celebrating the 20th season of Chamber Music Yellow
Springs earlier this month, the Artis String Quartet of Vienna confirmed
the local groups tradition of consistently bringing the highest
quality ensembles to town.
The quartets program, which took place Sunday, Nov. 3, at the First
Presbyterian Church, featured a variety of music by composers Wolfgang
Amadeus Mozart, Tania Gabrielle French, Johannes Brahms and Robert Schumann.
In 1790, at the age of 34, Mozart wrote the Quartet in B flat (K. 589)
for the king of Prussia, Frederick William II. Although classical in its
general conception, it includes some passages with harmonic elements,
contrapuntal and beat accents that seemed restrained, as if Mozart had
known that the king was not yet prepared for revolution. Mozart was experimenting
and anticipating what Beethoven would feel free to create 30 years later.
During the concert, the first violinist, Peter Schuhmayer, played the
piece with a sense of romanticism, impairing somewhat the quality of the
sound. The work provides ample opportunity to enjoy the cello part (the
king was a decent cellist) and cellist Othmar Müller produced an
incomparable rich tone, blending in a supreme way with the violist, Herbert
Kefer. Mozart would have enjoyed the performance and so did the audience.
Tania Gabrielle Frenchs Quartet No. 2, Communications,
was composed as a birthday gift to the new Hollywood String Quartet and
premiered in January 2001. It is a beautifully written piece in four parts:
Giocoso, Waltzer, Invocation and Gossip!,
titles that signal to the listener some of the ideas she conveys in making
elegant use of attractive devices like Shostakovichean dissonances and
The Artis Quartet rendered it with a captivating sonority and a contained
emotion without falling into mellifluous melodrama.
The quartets performance of Brahmss Quartet in A minor, Op.
51, No. 2, was inspiring. If there was a listener concerned with perfection
in a live concert he was not disappointed.
For an encore, the quartet played the fast movement of Schumanns
1st String Quartet, Op. 41. It made me think of Talleyrand, who said,
Words were created to hide the sentiments, because it is impossible
to describe the sense of beauty and emotion that a technically difficult
piece can generate. The Artis Quartets interpretation was exhilarating.