Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Concerts on Kentmere: The Pyxis Piano Quartet

From left: Amy Leonard, Hiroko
Yamazaki, Meredith Amado, Jie Jin
When classical music comes to the Delaware Art Museum, it's an event not to be missed. For the most recent Concert on Kentmere, the world-class Pyxis Piano Quartet graced the museum's main entry space, under a new (to DAM) piece of artwork, Paul Bocuse's World (1977) by Red Grooms. The wit and whimsy of the giant shadowbox-style piece, set in a restaurant kitchen, both contrasted the music and conformed to it -- the concert series is, after all, "where magnificent art and music come together.

If you're not familiar with the Pyxis Piano Quartet, they are a chamber music ensemble performing traditional and contemporary sonatas, duos, trios and quartets. On this night, the four immensely talented women -- Meredith Amado on violin, Jie Jin on cello, Amy Leonard on viola, and Hiroko Yamazaki on piano, performed three pieces: A duo on viola and cello, a trio on violin, cello, and piano, and, finally, a quartet featuring all four together.

The first two pieces were relatively obscure and contemporary, and classicly avante-garde. American Walter Piston's (1894-1976) Duo (for viola and cello) is an optimistic piece laced with distinctively American half-steps. Russian Dmitri Shostakovich's (1906-1975) Piano Trio in e minor, Op. 67 is a haunting an complex tale of sorrow and hope, written in 1944, with references to Soviet oppression, the discovery of extermination camps in Poland, and the recent death of a friend. The powerful piece, in turns dark and folkishly upbeat, was a highlight of the evening.

The final piece was more well-known: Piano Quartet in g minor, K 478 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) is chamber music at its finest, with an interesting backstory. The piece, written in a couple of days by Mozart for a paycheck, was a failure initially -- it was simply too complicated for the amateur musicians who played chamber music at home with friends for entertainment. Eventually, in the hands of more skilled musicians, it became one of Mozart's most beloved pieces of chamber music.

While visiting the museum for the concert, be sure to explore the open gallery. On this evening, guests could experience the wonderful State of the Art, Illustration 100 Years After Howard Pyle, featuring some of the most revered illustrators in contemporary art.

For information on upcoming Concerts on Kentmere, visit
For upcoming Pyxis dates, visit

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