We offer suggestions for arts lovers to discover (and re-discover) established and emerging artists, musicians and performers in and around Delaware. Although we particularly like to celebrate smaller arts organizations and individuals, we cover nearly anything that strikes us or that we feel you should know about. Periodically, we welcome guest bloggers and artists to join us.
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.
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.
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.