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Parker Quartet closes Music Alliance’s first season in lushly romantic fashion
Kansas City Star
By Robert Folsom
The Parker Quartet wrapped up the inaugural season of the Music Alliance — a partnership between the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s Conservatory of Music and Dance and the Friends of Chamber Music — Saturday night at White Recital Hall with a concert of romantic expressions and modern tensions.
The Romantic era was represented by Antonin Dvorak’s “Cypresses for String Quartet, B. 152,” which opened the concert, and Felix Mendelssohn’s “Quartet No. 4 in E Minor, Op. 44, No. 2,” which closed the concert.
“Cypresses” is a series of 12 short pieces. The program listed three — I. “I know that on my love” (Moderato); II. “Death reigns” (Allegro ma non troppo); and IX. “Thou only dear one” (Moderato). But a fourth piece was announced from the stage: XI. “Nature lies peaceful.”
From the beginning, the Parker Quartet (Daniel Chong, violin; Karen Kim, violin; Jessica Bodner, viola; and Kee-Hyun Kim, cello) produced a lush chordal sonority. The decision to include “Nature lies peaceful” was a good one; it was more contrapuntal than the three previous pieces and made a fine conclusion to Dvoøák’s Romantic gestures.
Violinist Kim introduced György Kurtág’s modern “Hommage à Mihály András: Twelve Microludes for String Quartet, Op. 13,” by having the quartet play the first notes of the first three pieces. The third note was a loud pizzicato with a grand sweep of bows. The effect was comical, but the execution of the chromatic Kurtág showed that this is a serious quartet that can navigate the exigencies of atonal gestures with comfortable expertise.
Before intermission, the Parker Quartet performed Paul Hindemith’s five-movement “String Quartet No. 4, Op. 22.” The first two movements and the last two movements were played without pause, leaving the third movement to stand alone with a pulse from the cello beneath Hungarian hints of Bartók melodicism.
The quartet played Hindemith’s complex textural score with a conviction that excited the air. How else to clearly communicate to the 70 or so people in the audience the composer’s neoclassical melodies, counterpoint and rhythms?
When the quartet closed with Mendelssohn’s “Quartet No. 4, “its most striking feature was the aural equivalent of the sum being greater than its parts: Four-part chords produced a large sound as string overtones reinforced string overtones.
Otherwise, the Mendelssohn was too light following the Hindemith. The final movement, Presto agitato, had a lulling effect, in spite of its rhythmic motion.
A better programming choice would have been to end with the Hindemith, with its dramatic, declarative conclusion,