Kuttner Quartet’s debut performance impressive
By Peter Jacobi H-T Music Reviewer
December 6, 2011
The current version of the Kuttner Quartet, comprised of star string players in IU’s Jacobs School, gave its debut concert in Auer Hall Sunday evening. Verdict: this is an awfully good Kuttner that plays with the confidence of a mature professional ensemble and that imbues its performances with already keen artistic insight.
The group’s program also revealed the group’s versatility. There was, to open, a landmark piece of Impressionism, Debussy’s Quartet in G Minor. That was followed by a 20th century masterpiece, Bartok’s Quartet Number 3. As a closer, the Kuttner sampled the Romantic era, Schumann’s Quartet in A Minor, Opus 41, Number 1.
All three readings were strong, the obvious result of careful contemplation and preparation. Some credit must go to the ensemble’s coach for this semester, Jorja Fleezanis, a violinist of acuity and vast experience. But the players themselves took to the stage, and what one heard from them throbbed with their own gathered interpretive imprint.
The three performances had a finish as well as a youthful freshness and vigor. The Debussy sparkled with tonal effects, glowed with instrumental colors, and dripped drama. The Bartok, in four movements played without interruption, featured unbridled and yet also controlled intensity; one heard sadness and pugnaciousness and strains of Hungarian folk music, and the musicians did not shun a key element of this quartet, the composer’s homage to the Baroque, partially hidden in modern harmonics but very much there.
The Schumann featured not only niftily unified instrumental work but a wide range in expressiveness, with the high point coming in the Adagio, a beautiful love song that the composer built to the level of the ecstatic.
In sum, the Kuttner impressed. Violinists Timothy Kantor and Aaron Schwebel, violist Yoni Gertner, and cellist Davin Lee make quite a team. It will be interesting to see what another semester together will do for them. We’ll find out in April, after a few months of coaching by violist Atar Arad.
Though his influence could be felt, the Early Music Institute’s Baroque Orchestra played the first two-thirds of its Sunday afternoon concert in Auer without leader and teacher Stanley Ritchie on stage.
And it did right well, bringing stylistic validity to the genial B-Flat Major Concerto Grosso of Handel and Johann Christian Bach’s melodic and cheerful Sinfonia in G Minor, Opus 6, Number 6. Violinists Stephanie Raby and Maria Jose Romero added solo oomph to the Handel.
Ritchie then did make an appearance for the program’s climax. He took to the podium for a reading of Haydn’s Symphony Number 49 in F Minor, labeled (not by the composer) “La passione.” The score does indeed contain moments of passion, somber ones in the opening Adagio and restless ones in the Allegro di molto that follows. One also is favored with Haydn’s gracefulness in the Minuet and Trio, and the wind-up Presto is all zest and tizzy. Maestro Ritchie guided his ensemble nimbly through it all. On the podium or off, he had done his work.
Copyright: HeraldTimesOnline.com 2011