1. Melinda Lee Masur, piano; Karen Stiles and Sayaka Okada, violins; Emily Watkins Freudigman, viola; and Kenneth Freudigman, cello; were joined by violist Yizhak Schotten for a great start to their sixth season. They played in Kerrville and Boerne on Thursday and Friday, so it was no surprise that it was well polished on Sunday. (Schotten also gave a great masterclass and played Brahms' Sonata #2, opus 120 on Saturday afternoon with Melinda Lee Masur.)
2. The program opened with Melinda and Ken playing Chopin's Introduction and Polonaise Brillante, a youthful (written at age 19) work that exudes love and joy. Tempos were brisk and exciting, with plenty of bravura for both.
3. Next was Hans Krasa's music, two short works written in a concentration camp just before Krasa's murder by the Nazi's. His music is well crafted and got a great performance from Okada and the Freudigmans (men? hahaha).
4. Joaquin Turina's Scene Andalouse is a rare gem that should be heard much more often. Imagine a Debussyian texture with Spanish flavor with a gentle protaganist and you pretty much have it. Schotten was in the center leading in perfect style, and Lee provided lush and flashy color, along with the quartet of Stiles, Okada, and the Freudigmans.
5. After intermission, a late string work by Brahms capped the program nicely, the String Quintet, opus 111. Ken sang with the intensity and passion required for the opening motif, and Schotten blended well with the San Antonians. There were smiles all around as each part cued here and there, allowing for phrases to play out with panache and ebb-and-flow easily. Especially tender was the slow movement allowing Stiles to shine in the upper register.
A pre-concert talk and reception added to the afternoon - you won't want to miss their next performance, October 19th featuring Tal Perkes, flute. Learn more here.