This weekend I attended two wonderful concerts. Despite the snow (it was only a few inches!) both concerts were a bit sparse. First, Saturday evening I caught the Parisii Quartet play an all Beethoven program at Gretna Music.
It was delightful to hear fresh, young impressions of Opus 18 #2, Opus 18 #1 and Opus 130. I also heard some of their rehearsal beforehand, very demanding, yet friendly. It was one of their last concerts in a 3 week US Tour - they go back to Paris for a few days and then on to Spain, et al. More soon with an interview with the first violinist, Arnaud Vallin.
Unfortunately on the way back the WITF SUV hit a slick spot on the highway and decided to spin 360 degrees and eventually end up backwards in the middle of the ditch between the two lanes...no harm was done, except for our young engineer's pride and nerves. On a lighter side a "Don Quixote"-esque Jeep tried to stop to help us, and then again for another SUV that was off the road a few miles down, who also was able to get out unassisted...we believe the Jeep was out JUST to help others...perhaps there's a jeep(tm) commercial in it!
The sparse crowd was appreciative, if talkative (more on this in the future...why the hell do people think it's ok to TALK during the music?!) and it's too bad that concert promoters believe they have to not only do ads for their concerts but talk about the music...saying something COMPELLING about an upcoming concert or a work on the program is one thing, to go on and on, or read notes is another - sure, the setting is makes a difference...if you're in someone's home, they may say a few things as host or hostess, but otherwise, let the musicians speak for themselves and the music.
That Maria Bachmann and Trio Solisti will take over the world soon won't suprise me...first off, this group is stunning musically. They are clearly led by their violinist (no arguments here!) - and it's in the best possible taste. Tempos are bright, exciting and passionate. They throw everything they can into their playing. Despite a crowd of perhaps 40ish (in number not AGE!) they were playing as if in Carnegie Hall for all the world's critics to hear. They substituted Bartok's Contrasts for Haydn, and a later Brahms for his first Trio (they could have reciprocated and played Brahms' A minor Trio for Clarinet, Cello and Piano - but hey, even David Krakuer needs a break I'm sure!) Oh, and did I mention they are stunning? Take a peek - they play even better than they look - no small feat!
The second half was Paul Moravec's Tempest Fantasy (watch for my interview with Paul soon!) that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2004. I met Paul this last year and have interviewed him twice; he has premieres in Pennsylvania coming up in March and April - keep an eye out here for updates.
It was played with great energy and insight - they commisioned the work - and have had many other works for them written by Paul - and was very well received. [Emailing Paul last night got the ol' response, I told you so, of course it was great!] I've heard a critique that it is too busy and doesn't work...I disagree - maybe on a few hearings it changes...there isn't a note that should be changed. The Shakespeare it's based on (and I use "based" strongly!) is not a simple work. Nor should the music that represents it be simple, but allow "characters" to have a complexity and personality. Moravec's palatte is four instruments and nto all four play all the time...layers are important and the notes DO fly by...but the result of Moravec's score and the dedication of the players are a beautiful thing...no wonder why it won the Pulitzer. Hearing it live was a real treat, if you don't know the Tempest Fantasy, be sure to pick up the Arabesque cd, it's well worth it.
The concert concluded with Vittorio Monti's Czardas as an encore, complete with Maria Bachmann serenading the audience by strolling around the ENTIRE church. Also stunning were the bird calls between Maria and David Krakauer - what a high register he has! Also Jon Klibonoff managed to play inside the piano - very nice!