I have been asked recently whether I am dead because I haven’t posted much. I am not dead. Very much alive and well, and in addition to the whole not-dead thing, I had the pleasure of hearing a recital by the Aeolus Quartet yesterday at Bargemusic; the program was Beethoven’s String Quartet #13 (minus the Grosse Fugue) and Dvořák’s Op. 81 Piano quintet (with pianist Rita Sloan). The Beethoven I’ve heard many times, but the Dvořák was new to me.
There was the odd slip and squeak and a few moments where the rhythm didn’t quite seem to hold together (e.g. in the cavatina of the Beethoven quartet), but on the whole this was an exciting performance. These musicians were at their best when they had something big and exuberant to tear into, like the presto (second movement) of the Beethoven, which elicited its own little round of applause (we were cheerfully informed by the first violinist that we could clap whenever we wanted, which turned out to be often) or the furiant in the Dvořák piece, which I thought was terrific – the four strings and the piano are passing around a series of little dance themes, and they did it in a way that really clicked. There were plenty of quieter moments too, like the rippling little theme of the Dumka (second movement ) of the Dvořák that were also really compelling.
I haven’t heard a live chamber ensemble since I think last summer, and every time I do, I remember why I like it so much. You can hear the individual parts far more distinctly than on a recording, and – well, it’s just fun. (I went home and went on a bit of a ticket bender for Mostly Mozart later in the summer. Yeah!)