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Archive for November 29th, 2012

(Another music review I wrote when I was studying in Vienna, Austria. This one is dated April 10, 2011.)

 

For a change of pace, I went to the Wien Konzerthaus to experience the Aron String Quartet performing several different works. The hall in which they performed was lovely. The ceiling had such intricate design and framework, and the dimensions were excellent for carrying sound.

The performance began with a String Quartet piece by Hanns Eisler. It was certainly twelve-tone and had the 20th Century aspects of atonality about it. I don’t listen to very much atonal music and found this particular piece unsettling and disturbing. I could almost picture a scene with demons dancing around a fire in a forest with the incessant plucking, climbing, stark and sudden dynamic contrasts. There was some form to it that told a story, however disjunct it was.

Next on the program was Maurice Ravel’s String Quartet in F-Major. The first movement, Très doux, or very soft, opened in a very refined and stately style as the first theme was introduced, a stark contrast to what we had previously heard. I felt as if it was describing the nature scene outside of a French estate, following the fluttering adventures of a butterfly. The second theme just floated through the air in wonderful strains, especially from the first and second violin. Movie soundtrack composers may have been inspired by this because I notice similar patterns and musical phrases from shows I have seen. It builds into a frenzied echo of the first theme in a much wilder approach, then settling back into the original feel and flow. Most of the players were expressive as they were performing, except for the viola. He seemed too focused in on the music pages to evoke it through his facial and body expressions. The movement ends on a slight variation of the main theme, slowing to a pause.

Suddenly, the strings burst through in a very catchy theme that they pluck. It makes me think of a more folk, playful, and adventuresome theme. The second movement is written Assez vif, or brisk, which certainly makes sense. I really enjoy watching the first violinist who incorporates his entire body into his performance and expression. His feet are constantly moving, and sometimes they even lift of the floor as he reels back in musical immersion. There are brief allusions to the stated themes in the beginning of the movement throughout as it moves into a slower and darker mood then eventually builds up again into the free-flowing and initial eager outpouring.

The third movement, Très lent or very slow, lives up to its name. The beginning sounds almost like it’s in a harmonic minor key and proceeds with subtlety that echoes a vague resemblance of the first theme but then alters it in a more somber sense. It is very tragic, and you can feel such emotion pouring forth from it. This could almost portray Autumn as things linger as they fade away. You can almost see the wind rustling the fallen leaves in the music. The movement ends after another visitation to the altered first theme lingering in the air with a beautiful chord.

The final movement in this selection jolts you out of your reverie quickly, as it is called Vif et agité, lively and agitated. It is very busy and wild, in a sense. You get the sense that everything is turning in circles about you and building up more and more powerfully. Echoes of themes from the first and second movements burst forth in sudden instances. The idea of leaves being carried on the wind could also be described with this music except in a more intense and motivated sense. One leaf in particular might be carried through the air in winding circles all around the extent of the estate, re-visiting themes and areas previously mentioned in Ravel’s piece. The drama builds until the very last moment with a very delightful ending.

The final piece was Brahm’s Clarinet Quintet in B Minor. The Aron Quartett was joined by Daniel Ottensamer on clarinet. It was an enchanting and dramatic piece. I admit, most of my attention was focused on the clarinetist due to his good looks. That being said, I’m truly being honest when I say that he is the most talented clarinet soloist that I have ever heard. He has amazing tone quality and mastery of technique. When he climbed into the high register, I just sighed happily at the purity of his sound. It did not once break or sound airy like so many clarinets that I hear. I thoroughly enjoyed this musical adventure.

 

 

❤ Me

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