I went to Annville to hear the Cypress String Quartet at Lebanon Valley College last night.
1. The quartet played almost immediately after taking the stage, there was no tuning, retuning and rigamaroll of technical adjustments - it was all about the music with the Cypress.
2. The program began with Mozart's Quartet K 575, complete with tasteful tempi and amazing balances. Melodic lines were supported with the greatest of care and with the right amount of flippant fun. It's the way Mozart should be played.
3. Samuel Barber was next and his only String Quartet - yes - the origin of his famous Adagio. Violinist Tom Stone spoke briefly before the quartet, talking about Barber and this music. What followed was fresh music making and some of the most idosyncratic stylistic playing that made Barber more Barber than he might have ever imagined. It was clear, gorgeous and in a word, sumptuous. I heard talk afterwards that audience members wanted more time between the 2nd and final movement, which I imagine if it wasn't marked attacca by Barber himself, was a choice the Cypresses made to keep from early applause. In any case the transition Barber makes between the Adagio and last movement is spot on, not needing any space in my opinion.
4. After intermission, the quartet played Dvorak's charming G major Quartet, Opus 106. It's a late work and you certainly get the idea that Dvorak had already mastered this form. In the hands of the Cypress Quartet, the ideas flowed spaciously and with ease. Again, balances and contrasts were handled with grace and charm. It was appreciated by the full hall with a standing ovation. Unfortunately a student photographer was clicking pictures during the first three movements, adding unpleasant percussion to those around her.
5. The night ended with an encore with Josef Suk's Barcarolle. The quiet lyrical piece served as a musical dessert following the main course of the concert, and the audience went home full and pleased.
It was such a delightful evening and the Quartet's programs are always interesting, check their schedule out here! This program isn't demonstrative of their commitment to new music, which you should purchase their Jennifer Higdon recording on Naxos, or cds of Jeffery Cotton or Schulhoff.