IN: Reviews

An Ambrosial Afternoon


After the succès fou of the chamber orchestra concert at the Maverick on Saturday evening, it might be unseemly to expect the next day to bring anything of the same or equal quality to the hall, but on Sunday afternoon, in “Music for Eugène Ysaÿe,” the Amernet String Quartet dished up, with superior respect for our delight, works of  Beethoven, Chausson, Franck, and Saint-Saëns.

The ambrosial Amernets opened with Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 6 in B-flat Major, Op. 18, No. 6. The sixth in Beethoven’s enormous catalogue of string quartets, its roots reveal Haydn’s tutelage, and it takes off from there with some radical gestures. The foursome drew us in with its fiercely intelligent reading which covered a lot of musical and spiritual distance.

The ensemble’s heartfelt and meticulous virtuosity blossomed in Saint-Saëns’s String Quartet No. 1 in E Minor, Op. 112, a wise and lovely salute to the youthful Beethoven from the aged Saint-Saëns. The French master, awed by Beethoven’s examples, wrote his first and only string quartet in 1924 when he was 79. The Amernet’s journey captured the work’s classical manner, its baroque gestures (including a four-part fugue in the Scherzo), and the typically French abundance of ornament and rhythmical fancy.

The Amernet played the closer, Franck’s single example in the form, with luminosity and trenchant flair, catching the cyclic motifs and grand gestures with expected excellence.

Alexander Platt, Maverick’s music director invited the KASA String Quartet to play Chausson’s Concerto for Violin, Piano, and String Quartet, Op. 21 in his own reduction for piano and string quartet. The KASA, members of the Caroga Arts Collective, had performed at Maverick the evening before. On account of the skill of the arranger and the brilliance of the players, Chausson’s unusual concerto sounded absolutely idiomatic and convincing.

Mary Fairchild lives in Rosendale, New York, after a long career as a host at WQXR, WNYC, WMHT (Schenectady), and WPLN (Nashville). She has for some 20 years been writing program notes for Vladimir Feltsman’s PianoSummer at New Paltz. Before being called by Kalliope, the Muse of Eloquence and of Writing About Music, she worked as a financial editor and manager of investor relations in Wall Street.

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