In performance: Royal String Quartet
Too-strong pianist overpowers fine quartet
by Joan Reinthaler
Had he been performing in a large concert hall with the backing of a full symphony orchestra, pianist Eugen Indjic's reading of the Chopin F Minor Piano Concerto No. 2 would have been a treat. Supple and beautifully articulated, his was a performance that explored a whole world of colors and sonorities. But the venue on Sunday was the intimate music room of the Phillips Collection, the version was Chopin's transcription for piano and string quartet and the excellent young Royal String Quartet was outweighed and overwhelmed by Indjic's power. The upper strings sounded frantic in their effort to be heard and the lower strings, more relaxed and lyrical, nevertheless were impotent in this unbalanced ensemble. Indjic could and should have made adjustments.
(read more after the jump)
On its own, the quartet (from the Chopin Music Academy in Warsaw) offered intense and committed readings of the one-movement Quartet No. 1, Op. 62 , "Already It Is Dusk," by Gorecki and the String Quartet No. 4 by Grazyna Bacewicz. Both of these are pieces by composers who explored the serialism and atonality of the early 20th century and emerged on the other side, comfortable in idioms that are less dominated by harmonic dogma. Gorecki's features a series of quietly lyrical viola hymn melodies interrupted by increasingly urgent and vigorously repeated chords, whose echoes ring in a quiet fog of sound. Bacewicz's more classically structured three movements featured moods of declamation and bucolic conversation, romantic interplay and, finally, a jolly dance.
The performances were intelligent, well executed and beautifully thought out.
-- Joan Reinthaler
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