Sunday, May 14, 2006

St Lawrence String Quartet

In a previous post I mentioned the St. Lawrence String Quartet, a wonderfully talented chamber group in residence at Stanford. In addition to the touring schedule that accompanies an ensemble that is regarded as top 5 in the world, they teach and do all that they can to enrich the arts on campus. A perfect example of the latter: they dedicated their afternoon on Saturday to perform at a fundraiser hosted by my friend Jeff for the Music Department.

Seeing world-class musicians in a setting as intimate as Jeff's living room is an amazing opportunity, but the program made the afternoon even more extraordinary. A gifted student pianist, David Lee, started the concert with Ravel’s Ondine. The piece showcased David’s graceful, effortless style, and I found myself transfixed by the mellifluous notes flowing from the Bösendorfer.

Pianist George Barth and mezzo soprano Miriam Abramowitsch then delighted the crowd with a selection of songs. The first three were from Poulenc and in French. My favorite was Hotel, purely for the poetry of Apollinaire. The next three were songs by Erich Korngold in German, including the melancholy Gefaßter Abschied. They concluded with three Russian songs from Rachmaninoff. The stunning melodies and somber lyrics provided a perfect transition to the second half of the program.

Following an intermission, the St. Lawrence String Quarter took the stage, or in this case, the chairs in the center of the packed room. That they love performing and teaching was evident with the interest with which they explained the music we were about to hear. First was the sad and moving Eli Eli composed by Jonathan Berger for his friend Daniel Pearl. The group then played Shostakovich’s challenging Quartet #8 and concluded with the gorgeous Andante from Mozart’s Quartet in D Major.

I wish I had the vocabulary and training to describe how wondrous their performance was. Perhaps others can in the comments. The inescapable conclusion, though, is that the St. Lawrence String Quartet is a very special group of musicians, and if you have an opportunity to hear them I hope that you can take it.

Bonus link: St. Lawrence String Quartet recordings


At 5:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Totally agree. The SLSQ is an absolutely amazing group. We are extremely fortunate to have them in the area, and they are not recognized nearly enough for their talent or their generosity. What's more, it's a real treat to be able to spend a week with them every summer at their workshops. They're an inspirational and fun group of individuals.
Michael Flexer


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