The Borromeo String Quartet at Maverick

The Borromeo String Quartet played at Maverick on Sunday afternoon. I had never seen The Borromeo String Quartet before, and I found their playing to be interesting (in a good way). Something else that I found interesting: The Borromeo String Quartet created something called the Living Archive Recorded Performance Series. They record their live concerts, and you can order DVD’s and CD’s of most of the concerts they’ve performed across the world! But about Sunday…


Italian Serenade                                                                            Hugo Wolf
Molto Vivo


String Quartet No. 1, Op. 7                                                        Bela Bartok
Lento: Attaca:
Poco a poco Accelerando all’Allegretto –
Introduzione Allegro – Attaca:
Allegro Vivace


Quintet for Strings in F Major, WAB 112                                  Anton Bruckner
Scherzo. Schnell
Finale. Lebhalt Bewegt


Hugo Wolf sketched other movements for Italian Serenade, but Molto vivo was the only one ever completed. The music bounced between the instruments, running free from the restraints and worries of life. Later on however, it was filled with it’s own thoughts of despair… Finally, the music returned to the mood of the begginning, which is how the piece ended.

Not entirely familiar with Bartok’s Quartet, I felt it was more of a free-form whole than individual movements… It opened with sad, droopy harmonies that unfolded slowly. The mist cloaking the music then parted, only to reveal an even more uneasy sound, as the music was tugged between opposing forces of energy. At one point, the viola played a darkly thrilling and dramatic melody, while first and second violin and cello created tension in their accomponiment. The second movement – Poco a poco accelerando all’Allegretto – had contrasting textures and short phrases. Introduzione Allegro is the introduction to the final movementRepeated notes over and over again on first violin during Allegro Vivace created a frenzied feeling. Just as the music reached the height of it’s crazed state, a clap of thunder sounded overhead. As a matter of fact, the weather largely mimicked the music… Well, except for at the end of the piece. The music became brighter, but it still kept pouring and only got colder and darker outside.

Playing with The Borromeo String Quartet for Anton Bruckner’s String Quintet in F Major was Michael Klotz (of The Amernet String Quartet) on second viola. All five instruments open the piece, creating a rich tone. The second movement was rather darling and made me think of small birds flitting around and chirping playfully. All I can say about the Adagio third movement is: three notes. That’s what it took before I started crying. I swear I could feel my heart stir inside me as I listened… I think my favorite part of the movement was when the cello played solo. The natural tone of the instrument lent itself particularly well to the sad beauty of the music. It was a rather long movement (all of them were), and it ended with the lightest of touches, like a gentle kiss on the cheek by the wind. During the last movement, Finale. Lebhalt Bewegt, the five instruments held conversations with one another. All of a sudden, the music broke into a gallop, racing onward till the very end.

Although I enjoyed parts of the Bruckner quintet, I found it to be tiresome after a while. Aside from the third movement, I became a bit bored (and I say that as a lover of classical music!). As a matter of fact, I was not particularly enthralled with any of the pieces on the program. I find it hard to write inspired things about music which I was not inspired by (which is not to take anything away from the musicians who played it). But hey, for anyone who wants to see or hear for themselves, I’m sure in the near future you’ll be able to find recordings of the concert through the quartet’s “Living Archive”…


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