Showing posts with label Copeland Quartet. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Copeland Quartet. Show all posts

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 intriguing.
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 alive. 

We are lucky to have a quartet with such longevity as the Copeland Quartet, like a fine wine, is definitely improving with age.



Monday, January 30, 2012

Copeland String Quartet with Janet Jackson Witman

Janet Jackson Witman, harpist, was guest artist at Sunday’s Copeland Quartet concert at the Church of the Holy City. Ms. Witman played Aria in classic style by Marcel Grandjany in a version for harp and string quartet. Grandjany, a French harpist who emigrated to North America, wrote this as a concert etude to show the exploits possible with arpeggios on a harp. Ms. Witman executed the arpeggios with clarity, dexterity and a lyrical but gentle sound that resounded in the small church. Since every pew was full, there was little reverberation, yet harp sounded quite clear even in the back pews.

The next piece Ms. Witman chose was a piece that the Pleyel company had commission of Claude Debussy, Danses pour harpe chromatique. As orchestral parts for the harp began to include more and more chromatic passages, Pleyel tried to develop a harp with two sets of strings so the harpist would not need so many pedal changes. Unfortunately, the harpe chromatique did not win over the world of harpists and, like Ms. Witman, they had to learn to make incredibly fast pedal changes rather than deal with so many strings.

The quartet had been more of an accompanying orchestra for the harp in the first two pieces, but the Beethoven ‘harp quartet’, (String quartet No. 10 in E-flat major, opus 74), showed us they were quite capable of taking on more prominent roles. The players gave each voice its own character in Beethoven’s very long coda at the end of the first movement, providing a harmonic balance and shaping each chord with great musical sensitivity. The adagio ma non troppo second movement was a vehicle to show all of the melodic nuances of each of the four instruments – with the presto demanding their precision and alternating and exchanging of melodic phrases with seamless timing and matching lines. For four musicians to trade off a phrase and have it sound as if one person planned the slurs, intonation and dynamics is quite a feat, but nothing compared to their brave finale at the end of the allegretto con variazioni.

They will be at the Church of the Holy Trinity on April 1 or you can hear them by buying one of their two CDs.


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Copeland String Quartet and the Art of the Quartet

The Art of the Fugue has long been a challenge to keyboard artists, trying to play different voices in the fingers – but when the Copeland String Quartet plays it as a quartet – each voice takes on its own timbre and texture. Mark Ward had his colleagues play each theme and voice before they played eight of the twenty of the fugues Bach wrote in his Art of the Fugue.
The musical blend had the grace of four independent players – each trading the fugal voices, which wove a tapestry of sound throughout the stone church. The last fugue, as we had been warned, was not finished and they played it to the last notes Bach had written which inspired the audience to loud applause, a proper salute to Bach who was born 326 years ago this month.
The Schumann String Quartet in A major, Opus 41, No. 3 was a major scene change. Where Bach had created four independent voices for fugal polyphony, Robert Schumann was thinking in chordal harmony – making his quartet like his piano compositions. In the Andante espressivo, the first violin plays an A against the second violin’s held G – before the second moves to the A. Only professionals can tread this murky water and Eliezer Gutman and Tom Jackson had that harmonic tension and resolution beautifully controlled.
The quartet managed the Assai agitato with its many tempo, meter and mood changes without a hitch – communicating all of the dynamic and mood changes. You can feel that they have worked together long enough to sense each other’s tempi and expression.
The viola and first violin playing the melody over the ostinato of the second violin and the well-placed pizzicato of the cello were highlights in the Adagio molto and they took the Finale with no holes barred on speed – yet their ensemble was fluid as they built to a smooth and musical crescendo.
The quartet has two CDs out (see web site) and their next Holy City concert will be on May 22 at 4 p.m.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Copeland String Quartet at Church of the Holy City

The Mozart String Quartet in A Major, K 464 is a clean composition with variations and cerebral contrapuntal structure which cellist Mark Ward told the audience was a favorite of Beethoven. Beethoven wrote his Opus 18, Nr. 5 quartet as a reaction to this fascination.

No surprise that the complex nature of this work would intrigue the younger composer. The variations of the Andante movement were a great vehicle for hearing the individual voices as well as the cohesive playing of the group. The low hum of the variation led by Mark Ward’s cello was my favorite. The quartet not only kept the general tone fairly quiet, but their ability to match the classical style of sudden piano and forte made the rendition a palate-clearing starter preceding the Brahms dessert.

And a rich, romantic lush Brahms dessert it was. Eliezer Gutman and Tom Jackson, violins, kept their thirds together quietly and beautifully. Charly Salinger’s smooth clarinet tone resonated in the church and the strings matched his dynamics with ease. Salinger’s ability to change register with no strain makes it thrilling to hear the high tones scoop down to low tones. Nina Cottman played strong middle voices with a strong verve. All five players were able to arc phrases as one and managed to pull their volume down one more infinitesimal dynamic as they ended the last movement.

You can now buy Copeland’s new CD and hear them play the Beethoven Opus 18, Nr. 5 live on April 18.


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Copeland String Quartet at Church of the Holy City

The Copeland Quartet gave a moving account of String Quartet No. 2 in A Minor, Opus 13 by Felix Mendelssohn.

In the fugal section of the second movement, the voices entered with just the right dynamic and articulation. Eliezer Gutman’s control of the high notes over the pizzicato in the Allegro di molto made the melody soar through the church. When the final fugue of the fourth movement wound down and the quartet ended, the audience was hushed for a brief moment before they burst into applause.

The Haydn String Quartet No. 62 in C Major, opus 76, No. 3, the Kaiser, the other piece on their program, proved their prowess. The Allegro, which has a sudden dive into a Scottish bagpipe drone by viola and cello, showed their ability to smoothly transition back to the original theme. The Poco Adagio, Cantabile requires each player to play the tune we now know as the German national anthem, which Haydn wrote for Kaiser Franz Josef of Austria. The cascade of themes and harmonic decoration of the variations was thrilling. And the culmination was the ensemble of the accelerando in the last movement.

The Copeland Quartet has a new web site and they have also recorded a new CD which should be out by early next year.


Monday, September 28, 2009

Chamber Music in October

Would you believe that the Pyxis Quartet’s October 1 concert at the Delaware Art Museum has been sold out since August? The Concerts on Kentmere series will be presented in the Pre-Raphaelite gallery and an option for dinner on the Chihuly Bridge can be part of the package for those lucky few who booked early.

The Pyxis Quartet was founded this year and I hope they will play together for many years to come: Hiroko Yamazaki, piano, Meredith Amado, violin, Amy Leonard, viola and Jie Jin, cello are a formidable combination.

If you did NOT book early for the Concert on Kentmere, fret not. You have two other opportunities to hear the Pyxis this fall: They will be playing on Thursday, October 29, at noon at First and Central Presbyterian Church just off Rodney Square and on Sunday, November 1 at Grace United Methodist Church at 3:00 p.m.

But don’t forget the Newark Symphony Chamber Series which starts on Saturday, October 3, with a star-studded ensemble of players. Thomas DiSarlo, concertmaster of the Philadelphia group Camerata Ama Deus, will play a violin etude by Ernst, and two Mozart violin duos with Amy Walder. Walder will switch to viola to join Susan Kiley, who will trade in her NSO viola role for a violin, and Charles Thomas, cello and Thomas DiSarlo, violin for the Haydn Emperor Quartet. The final piece in the concert will be the Schumann E-flat Piano Quartet with Vincent Craig, piano, DiSarlo, violin, Amy Walder, viola and Charles Thomas, cello.

On October 11 at 4:00 p.m.,near perfect acoustics in the Church of the Holy City will enhance the delightful sound of the Copeland String Quartet: Eliezer Gutman, violin, Thomas Jackson, violin, Nina Cottman, viola and Mark Ward.

And if you are still hungry for chamber music (and macaroons), don’t forget the Hotel Dupont Chamber Series. On October 27, you will hear the Nielsen Wind Quintet, the Strauss Happy Workshop and a local composer, Chuck Holdeman’s Petit Concert.

On Tuesday, December 1, David Amado teams up with his wife, Meredith, for an evening of Mozart violin sonatas at the Hotel Dupont.

There is no shortage of chamber music in the Diamond State this season!


Monday, June 15, 2009

The Copeland Quartet

A string quartet is a rare jewel among musical ensembles for many reasons:  first, four musicians have to agree to a great deal of their time practicing together.  Second, players must adjust to each other’s idiosyncrasies while learning to perform as a single entity.  Third, the four must agree on the musical interpretations of the pieces they play.

Delaware has such a jewel in the Copeland Quartet.  Eliezer Gutman, violin, Thomas Jackson, violin, Nina Cottman, viola and Mark Ward, cello have reached a high point in their ensemble playing since the quartet was formed in 2003 and they proved it with a performance on June 14 at the Church of the Holy Trinity in Wilmington – an acoustic haven for their sound.

But it is not just the acoustics which make the gifted group sound so good.  The group has established a level of communication that allows them to complete lines of very fast scales in the Arriaga String Quartet in A Major so that one voice simply melts into the next as if one player were pushing a ‘now cello, now viola, now violin button’.  And when they played a variation in the Andante movement with pizzicato and forte on the offbeat eighth notes, they were perfectly syncopated.  That is difficult for one person to do – try it as a foursome.

The concert continued with one of the more difficult quartets in the repertoire:  The String Quartet in F major by Maurice Ravel.  Sleeves rolled up, the players provided the tone color Ravel painted in the score with fantastic intonation and listening to the chords they created in each movement.  The effect of the double stop pizzicati against the legato notes in the second movement was electric.  The audience seemed to lean forward to see how it was done.

The Copeland will play four concerts at the Church of the Holy Trinity next year: October 11, January 24, April 18 and June 13 – all concerts at 4 p.m.


See for more information.