The Candlelight Concert Society had another extraordinary concert on Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019, with the performance of the Doric String Quartet (Alex Redington, violin, Ying Xue, violin, Hélène Clément, viola and John Myerscough, cello). CCS continues to present a wide array of top-notch classical music, and Saturday’s presentation was no different.
The DSQ formed in England in 1998. This concert was the 7th in their series of U. S. performances. This internationally acclaimed group lived up to everyone’s expectations.
CCS continues to present a wide array of top-notch classical music, and Saturday’s presentation was no different.
Their concert started off with a string quartet icon, Franz Joseph Haydn, “Quartet in B-flat major, op.33 no. 4”. This is a playful piece, and it’s as if Haydn is winking at us from it’s beginning movement, “Allegro moderato”. “Scherzo: Allegretto”” may remind you of a spring walk while “Largo” is reminiscent of the music in a Chaplain movie going from comical to poignant. The “Finale: Presto” has a memorable and whimsical refrain.
As Haydn blended his harmonies to create one musical voice, Benjamin Britten’s “Quartet no. 3, op. 94” gave each of the four instruments their own voice. Britten’s music is more modern. He, like his American contemporary and friend, Aaron Copeland, tried to create landscapes with his music. This piece uses pizzicato to stir us in“Duets: with moderate movement” and then like hands on a clock in “Ostinato: very fast”. “Solo: very calm” is almost like a lullaby and very soothing. Also, very much like his other contemporary, Gershwin, “Burlesque: Fast – con fuoco” uses pizzicato to create a modern sound that reflects 20th Century England. The final movement “Recitative & Passacaglia (La serenissima) slow- slowly moving” has a more mournful sound. Interestingly, the viola used by Ms. Clément, was actually one of Britten’s own.
The concert ended with Felix Mendelssohn, “Quartet in E minor, op. 44, no 2”. From the beginning, “Allegro assai appassionato”, with its classical harmonies and passages of tranquility and passion to the lighter “Scherzo; Allegro di molto” which reflects the composer’s French look on life, the opus is an excellent example of Mendelssohn’s work. “Andante”, a much slower movement, still has the sweets sounds for which he is most remembered. If you closed your eyes, you could be floating on a boat on the Seine. In “Presto agitato” cleverly used crescendos draw us in and out of the piece.
A huge standing ovation lead to an encore where the quartet played “Op. 33, no. 1 Slow movement” by Haydn.
The group itself was almost as interesting to watch as they were to hear. Redington almost appeared to be dancing in the Haydn section while Xue’s body swayed back and forth. Clément, seemed to thoroughly enjoy her viola solos in Britten’s opus and even when the piece seemed to have a serious tone, her face reflected the joy she has for her music. Myerscough’s cello became a vehicle to express his own passion for the music.
All and all it was a magnificent performance. If you have a chance to hear Doric String Quartet, don’t miss them. You can also hear their music on Chandos Records.
Candlelight Concert Society will be presenting the Italian Saxophone Quartet, Sunday, March 31 at 3 PM at HCC, at the Smith Theatre.
On March 30 they will be holding their 2018-2019 Gala Live! Backstage! At Merriweather Post Pavilion at Symphony Woods in Columbia, MD. Admission includes a preview concert by the Italian Saxophone Quartet, Dinner with a wine bar, live dance music and tango lessons and a special backstage tour of the pavilion.
For more information on their Season and the Gala contact Candlelight Concert Society.
Note: Tina Sinclair Smith accompanied this reviewer and was able to communicate professional insights to the performance.