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Tuesday, September 24, 2013
Copeland Quartet opens new series at Church of the Holy City
It was a delight to see the Copeland String Quartet in their
eleventh year – because you can feel that they have invested enough time to
coordinate in that magic extra-sensory perception chamber groups get after years
of performing together.
They courageously chose three pieces by composers not known
for their chamber catalogs and the results were mixed.For me, the Copeland’s interpretation of Hugo
Wolf’s wild and raucous Italian Serenade
was too tame and too cautious.Wolf was
trying to make music representing a rebellious soldier wooing a damsel
aggressively and I felt this damsel would have been underwhelmed.And yet, the exploration of the unknown was
The second piece was a lush, romantic short piece by Giacomo
Puccini, Crisantemi, which he wrote
for a funeral but which today would be the sort of movie theme patrons buy and
take home and play again and again.The
beautiful melodic lines were played freely and with great expression by first
violinist Eliezer Gutman and the group provided the support and countermelodies
as if they were thinking the same thoughts and breathing the same rhythm.
The third and last piece on the program was a surprising
string quartet which Giuseppe Verdi wrote in Naples while waiting for the
soprano in Aida to recover from an illness.No surprise that this extremely operatic composer wrote a quartet that
seemed like an opera.Tom Jackson,
second violin, got to lead the outer movements as if playing the alto
role.The first violin joined the duet
and then the strings began to sound like the orchestral part!The third movement gave cellist Mark Ward a
chance to show off the singing high notes of the cello as his colleagues formed
a pizzicato accompaniment.
The quartet played an encore which is on their third and
latest CD, the Andante Espressivo movement from Felix Mendelssohn’s Quartet in D
Major, Opus 44, Nr. 1.The group knows
this piece well and played it with confidence, yet it seemed still fresh and
We are lucky to have a quartet with such longevity as the
Copeland Quartet, like a fine wine, is definitely improving with age.