About us / Contact

The Classical Music Network

New York

Europe : Paris, Londn, Zurich, Geneva, Strasbourg, Bruxelles, Gent
America : New York, San Francisco, Montreal                       WORLD

Your email :



No K? OK

New York
Tisch Center for the Arts
05/16/2000 -  
Richard Strauss: Sextet from Capriccio
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: String Quintet K516
Franz Schubert: String Quintet

Jaime Laredo and Ida Kavafian (violins)
Cynthia Phelps and Michael Tree (violas)
Sharon Robinson and Janos Starker (celli)

Although the listings in the Times announced that Sharon Robinson would be putting aside her cello and playing the piano last evening, it seemed more likely that the KLR trio had simply given Joseph Kalichstein the night off in order to explore the string repertoire with some special friends. This was in fact the case as an all-star chamber cast assembled to delight us with their dazzling musicianship and truly superb intonation. When ever members of KLR are involved, the quality is extremely high, but last night the bar was raised to an even loftier standard.

Beginning with a piece of pure Nazi music (this sextet was actually premiered in a top Gauleiter’s living room), the group instantly created that thinly beautiful atmosphere unique as the opening of an opera that makes this last work for the stage of Strauss his best since Salome and begs the question of whether or not he was actually a great artist or simply an opportunist. The Sextet is a marvel of blended tonal color and this performance was thrillingly spare and intimate. I was curious to hear the interplay of Starker and Robinson, so diametrically opposed in performance practice. I like to think that I was the first to point out that the Hungarian’s surname is an exact description of his playing style and have recently read the same comment in the BBC magazine. Placing him as second to the opulent Ms. Robinson made for an interesting balance and I even d etected a hint of portamento in his solos (his advocates would probably consider this guilt by association).

The Mozart was close to indescribable. Laredo’s tone is perhaps the best in the world and he was supported brilliantly by his colleagues. This quintet is a shining example of the double viola style, so lovingly carried forward by Brahms and Dvorak. Ms. Phelps was especially impressive in the dramatic second viola part, digging in masterfully in the angst ridden third movement. New York has a number of great chamber players and when they get together as friends (in the true chamber music tradition), it is a privilege to be a spectator. The extremely knowledgeable crowd at the 92nd Street Y was suitably enchanted.

There is a huge difference between the sounds of the double viola and double cello quintets. The Schubert stands as one of the greatest of all chamber works (curiously ranking at the top with his two trios and the famous "Trout") and it does so because of its intensely full-bodied sonority. Here the blending of Robinson and Starker was sublime and it is hard to imagine a better performance of this painfully zaftig masterpiece. I was especially struck with the syncopated support lent by Ms. Kavafian to Mr. Laredo, the interplay of the melody fascinatingly batted back and forth by these two accomplished artists. The second movement did not allow any of us to breathe, so anticipatory were our listening habits, and the "Hungarian" finale (Brahms again comes to mind) was thrilling, the coda/false ending so dramatic that the crowd erupted in gales of well deserved applause at the final conclusion. A great ending to a great season at the Y and a peek at next year’s schedule promises many more musical jewels. With KLR in residence the treasure chest is always full.

Frederick L. Kirshnit



Copyright ©ConcertoNet.com