Friday, February 20, 2009

Chamber Music As It Was Meant To Be

"Chamber Music", traditionally, is music written for a small group of instrumentalists played in a small chamber or room in a palace or grand home. The audience was usually the members of the Royal Court and perhaps was part of a dinner party, entertainment for visiting guests, or simply the evening's amusement.

Since most grand palaces and royal courts have gone the way of the dodo bird, we now hear chamber music in large concert halls, maybe not the same ones as would accommodate the local symphony, but certainly larger than any royal chamber. Thus it was a real treat to actually hear chamber music in an elegant home, surrounded by fine antiques, sipping champagne from a gilded Murano Medici flute and enjoying a fine dinner of lobster newburg.

My illustrious neighbor and 3 others hosted a wonderful soiree for invited guests and patrons of the local "Friends of Chamber Music" concert series. The evening's entertainment included a short concert by the Jupiter String Quartet.

The Jupiter Quartet (all the info you need is at their excellent site) is an enthusiastic and charming group, with glowing reviews and a growing discography. As the time frame was short, we got only single movements from their major works, The Mendelssohn Quartet op 13 and Beethoven Quartet Op 59/2. The evening ended with a bravura performance of Astor Piazzolla's Four, For Tango.

Up close, you can see and feel the tension needed to keep the ensemble together. You can hear the bows interact with the strings, the creaking, the flexing. The sound is intimate, the inner voices alive. The performances were excellent, brisk in tempo but not overwhelmingly. The glorious adagio of the Beethoven was simply breathtaking in its breadth and communicative power.

Made me want to hear the whole concert...which I will shortly....

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