The Sunday, October 14, 2018 concert by Pyxis Piano Quartet — as part of Market Street Music's Festival Concert series — at Wilmington’s First & Central Presbyterian Church revealed once again the abundance of talent within each member of this laudable ensemble. Members include Luigi Mazzocchi, violin; Amy Leonard, viola; Jennifer Jie Jin, cello and Hiroko Yamazaki, piano.
Mozart seems to have invented the piano quartet. There are no examples of the genre among his contemporaries or immediate predecessors, including the very inventive Haydn. He left only these two work but they count among the very best in the repertoire.
Mozart’s G minor quartet grew out of a commission from the Viennese publisher Franz Anton Hoffmeister for three such works. The remaining two were canceled when the publisher felt the finished work was too difficult for the amateur musician — the usual market for keyboard-based chamber music.
|Pyxis Piano Quartet (L-R): Amy Leonard, viola; Hiroko Yamazaki, piano; Jennifer Jie Jin, cello & Luigi Mazzocchi, violin.
Pianist Hiroko Yamazaki assumed an even more virtuosic role in Mendelssohn’s F minor quartet, while the string players offered less flamboyant bits, albeit ones that carried the thematic material. Leonard’s viola got to show off its high register during the exposition of the second theme. Yamazaki again displayed virtuosic technique in the rolling figurations throughout the Adagio movement which exhibited pure early Romanticism. The strings at last assumed an (almost) equal footing with their keyboard companion in the whiplash final movement.
The concert opened with a fine performance by Mazzocchi and Leonard of Martinu’s Three Madrigals for the (seemingly) austere combination of violin and viola. Each artist exaggerated the sounds of their instruments: Mazzocchi played up the brightness of the violin while Leonard reveled in the richness and warmth of the viola.