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M. Haydn: Divertimento in C major, for violin, cello, and double bass (c. before 1772) Korngold: String Quartet No. 2 in E-flat major, Op. 26 (1933) Enescu: String Octet in C major, Op. 7 (1900) The Philadelphia Orchestra, Perelman Theater, Philadelphia 19.2.2006 (BH)

 

Elina Kalendareva, violin

Paul Arnold, violin

Philip Kates, violin

Zachary de Pue, violin

Miyo Curnow, violin

Jinny Leem, violin (guest)

Carrie Dennis, viola

Burchard Tang, viola

Kathryn Picht Read, cello

Robert Cafaro, cello

Alex Veltman, cello

Robert Kesselman, double bass

 


A pleasantly full house was on hand for this unusually considered and artfully played afternoon played by members of the Philadelphia Orchestra, with at least two rarities followed by a bona fide masterwork.  Brother of the more familiar Franz Joseph, Michael Haydn planted himself in Salzburg and devoted himself to a more conservative style, such as in this Divertimento, written solely to be entertaining, and it is.  The slightly offbeat instrumentation creates a lean sound, and the performers – Elina Kalendareva, Kathryn Picht Read and Robert Kesselman – exercised careful attention to dynamic levels, making the most of Haydn’s lightness.  Notable are several of the endings: the third movement is a vigorous Menuet that just stops, and the Presto finale, here taken very fast, ends with a delightful abruptness.

 

Kenneth LaFave, in his astutely considered comments on the Korngold Second Quartet, notes “…great music and great composers sometimes lurk in the shadows, unknown for a time, waiting to be discovered by new sets of ready ears and open minds.”  While open minds are always a good thing to have at hand, I’m not sure that this work tests the limits of what they might encounter in a recital.  It is easy to enjoy, and should find a more prominent place in the recital pantheon.  The opening Allegro is luxuriously scored and slightly astringent, followed by an Intermezzo that presents itself with the grace of a folk tune, reminiscent of Tchaikovsky.  The dramatic Larghetto opens with high harmonics in the violins, answered by low chords in the viola and cello, somehow evoking Schoenberg’s Verklaerte Nacht.  A very Viennese Waltz ends the piece, with just enough flirting with atonality interrupting the proceedings to keep things interesting, but no more austere than Ravel’s La Valse.  Paul Arnold on violin and Carrie Dennis on viola joined Ms. Kalendareva and Ms. Read in a florid performance of a florid piece.

 

When one recalls one’s activities at age 19, writing a String Octet was probably not among them, and it is hard to grasp that this effervescent, sophisticated work did indeed come from Enescu’s young pen.  An opening folk feeling quickly gives way to an almost shockingly stormy second movement marked Tres fougueux (“Very spirited”) filled with harrowing runs and high drama.  A few minor intonation glitches couldn’t dampen its basic high spirits, leading to the placid Lentement, the only relatively calm stretch in the entire work.  The final waltz is a complex romp, in which the cheeky teenager takes what seems to be a Viennese waltz and slightly deconstructs it in the middle, before the musicians reconnoiter and emerge victorious at the end.  The players – Philip Kates, Zachary De Pue, Miyo Curnow, Jinny Leem, Ms. Dennis, Burchard Tang, Robert Cafaro and Alex Veltman – seemed to be having a grand time grappling with it all. 

 



Bruce Hodges

 

 

 

 

 

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Contributors: Marc Bridle (North American Editor), Martin Anderson, Patrick Burnson, Frank Cadenhead, Colin Clarke, Paul Conway, Geoff Diggines, Sarah Dunlop, Evan Dickerson Melanie Eskenazi (London Editor) Robert J Farr, Abigail Frymann, Göran Forsling, Simon Hewitt-Jones, Bruce Hodges,Tim Hodgkinson, Martin Hoyle, Bernard Jacobson, Tristan Jakob-Hoff, Ben Killeen, Bill Kenny (Regional Editor), Ian Lace, Jean Martin, John Leeman, Neil McGowan, Bettina Mara, Robin Mitchell-Boyask, Simon Morgan, Aline Nassif, Anne Ozorio, Ian Pace, John Phillips, Jim Pritchard, John Quinn, Peter Quantrill, Alex Russell, Paul Serotsky, Harvey Steiman, Christopher Thomas, John Warnaby, Hans-Theodor Wolhfahrt, Peter Grahame Woolf (Founder & Emeritus Editor)