Philadelphia classical music events, discussion, and directory
It was Gary King's email that alerted me to the short concert by the Liebesfreud String Quartet at the Art Alliance this past Friday night. I hadn't known about the "Last Friday" series, nor had I even been in the Art Alliance since 1998 to attend Orlando Cole's 90th birthday celebration in the Art Alliance's restaurant which still under renovation as of last Friday. I'm certainly glad I learned about it.
Despite its lack of length, the event was quite remarkable. The dark oak paneling, being seated among the exhibits, the intimate overcrowdedness of it made me feel as though I'd been invited to another special party. The acoustics were a bit gooey though, what with all those bodies packed into such a short space which. From where I was sitting the playing of the instruments got lost in the total sound.
The music was quite special as well. It led with a short but very beautifully played "Meditation on the Old Bohemian 'Saint Wenceslas' by Josef Suk, written in 1914. Suk was a student of Dvorak and also became his son-in-law.
Then the Dvorak Piano Quintet with Christoph Eschenbach. This is a violist's dream to play. Dvorak, a violist himself, wrote some of his gorgeous stuff for viola in the whole chamber music literature. Not even Brahms did better.
Friday night David Giles did a fine job though in places I wished he played out even more. It's such a cruel piece. It challenges the players in every measure to give their best. Any weaknesses in ensemble or intonation it will be highlighted. Despite the lapses in each of those, the group brought out the music and feeling, which is of course the most important.
A couple more connections with The Curtis String Quartet. In 1954 the Art Alliance gave the Curtis String Quartet which was spelled "Quartette" in those days a Medal of Achievement Award and made the group became lifetime members. Also, Geoffrey Michaels, first violin of the Liebesfreud String Quartet was a member of the Curtis String Quartet from 1965 to 1969.
As I walking through the exhibits afterward I realized what a special thing it is to hear a concert in an art museum. Mary Curtis Bok in the early days of the Curtis Institute started a series of chamber music concerts at the Philadelphia Art Museum because she felt that when musical and visual arts are experienced simultaneously, the meaning each is more than doubly enhanced. It's no coincidence that Curtis students are again performing occasionally at the Art Museum.
Also, though this has nothing to do with the concert, congratulations to the University of Wisconsin who beat Penn State 42-7 on Saturday. As a transplanted Badger, just thought I'd gloat.