January 2006

Jupiter String Quartet
January 19, 2006Walter Hall Toronto
Tokyo String Quartet
January 19, 2006Jane Mallet Theatre Toronto
Much More Mozart and More
by Stanley Fefferman
Jupiter Rising

The fire and sweetness of youth is what the Jupiter String Quartet brought to their recital during a “Music in the Afternoon” concert presented by the Women’s Musical Club of Toronto as part of the WMCT’s 108th season.

The program consisted of Mozart’s Quartet No. 22 in B-Flat Major, K.589, (King of Prussia), Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 9 in C Major, Op. 59 No. 3 (Rasumovsky), and a new work entitled Banff Variations, that the Jupiter commissioned from Canadian Steward Grant for the 8th Banff International String Quartet Competition where the they took double honours in 2004: First Prize and the Szekely Prize for best performance of a Beethoven Quartet.

The Mozart has a prominent part for cello reflecting the financially embarrassed composer’s hope to attract the patronage of Emperor Frederick Wilhelm who played that instrument. Mozart’s expectation of a royal reception did not materialize and the writing reflects bouts of anxiety followed by surges of buoyant self-reliance. This alternation of dark and light moods is especially marked in the trio section of the third movement, which the Jupiter play rather slowly, dramatizing the contrasting high and low register voices. The cello also darkens the slow movement allowing the strength of an exquisite tenderness to flow from it.

The opening motive of Stuart Grant’s String Quartet No. 2, is based on Beethoven’s “Must it Be” dialogue in his last string quartet, No. 16 in F Major, Op. 135. This melody introduced by the viola playing slowly in a mournful mood, is followed by a second motive described as being in the manner of Bartok and “a jazzy Shostakovich”. The third set of variations is a contemplation that rises to an energetic climax. The piece closes with a fugue that elaborates the final affirmation.

Jupiter Quartet’s playing of the actual Beethoven Op 59. No.3 was marked by their sense of vivid contrast and responsiveness to moods that shift as the funereal rises to the playful in the first movement, through the flowing sweetness that alternates with Mozartean sadness in the Menuetto, to the fiery humour of the spirited final movement.

The members of the Jupiter Quartet are: Nelson Lee, violin; Meg Freivogel, violin; Liz Freivogel, viola; Dan McDonough, cello.

Much More Mozart

What rare luck to hear the Mozart String Quartet No. 22 in B-Flat Major, K.589 (King of Prussia) played twice in a day. In the evening following the Jupiter’s noontime concert, the Tokyo String Quartet led by Canadian violinist Martin Beaver performed on their four Stradivarius instruments. Without taking anything away from the pleasure given by the Jupiter’s version of this piece, the Tokyo let us hear why they are “regarded as one of the supreme chamber ensembles of the world.”

The opening strains, featuring violist Kazuhide Isomura, who has been with the ensemble for 30 years, and Clive Greensmith’s cello, created a tone that was noticeably warm and that somehow conveyed a sense of aching loss at the passage of time. Remarkably, this ensemble enabled the cello to bring forward a swelling, pulsing, keening vibration that drenched the audience in the emotionality of the piece while a sense of overall elegance and cheerful decorum was maintained. A mature ensemble makes the most of mature Mozart.

Sabine Meyer joined the ensemble for the Clarinet Quintet in A, K. 581. This is one of the most beautiful pieces of music there is, but one only wants to speak here of Ms. Sabine’s playing. Her tone possesses infinite gradations of smoothness that she projects with fierce passion. You could say, she rocks. In the slow movement where she plays in chalumeau register in unison with the strings, her tone is edgeless and conveys enormous tenderness. Passionate, tender, childlike in the Menuetto and playful in the fugal fourth movement.

Sabine Meyer
After four standing curtain calls, the players gave in and offered a sparky bit of a Webern Clarinet Concert to get us home.

This concert was presented as part of the 34th season of Music Toronto’s Chamber Music Downtown series. Look for a future broadcast on CBC Radio Two 94.1 FM

We welcome your comments and feedback
• • • • • •
Stanley Fefferman
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The Live Music Report

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