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COMMENTARY: A Big Classical Evening at BIG ARTS

Calidore String Quartet
Santiva Chronicle


The weather turned from frightful to delightful just in time for a big classical evening at BIG ARTS.

I had the pleasure of attending a one-night classical event that was more than just music to my ears. The young members Calidore String Quartet performed Jan. 9 in the Schein Performance Hall with their passionate renditions of Mozart, Schubert and Golijov.

The classical evening began with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's “Dissonant,” which premiered in 1785 in Vienna. Technically referred to as K. 465, “Dissonant” is the last of six “Haydn” Quartets that Mozart dedicated to his good friend and great composer, Franz Joseph Haydn. It quickly garnered the nickname “Dissonant” for the adventurous harmonic excursions of its slow introduction that is followed by brilliant Mozart melodies.

Nearly 40 years after Mozart in 1824, Franz Schubert composed his D minor Quartet we know as “Death and the Maiden” – named for the theme of the second movement. It was last on the program at BIG ARTS and one of the last pieces Schubert composed before he died from health complications. The Calidore String Quartet delivered the music its composer intended – more harmony than melody with a sorrowful close. “Death and the Maiden” is considered the most inspiring and moving quartet Schubert ever wrote, and after hearing it, it's hard to disagree.

The Calidore String Quartet gave a nod to modern chamber music by performing “Tenebrae,” composed in 2002 by American-immigrant Osvaldo Golijov. His music speaks in a voice that is powerful yet touching, contemporary yet timeless. His works are a combination of European, American and Latin secular cultures with a touch of deep spirituality drawn from Judaism and Christianity.

Golijov composed “Tenebrae” after he had observed the horror of violence in Israel that continues today and a week later accompanied his young son to the planetarium in New York, where they marveled at the Earth as a beautiful blue dot. In “Tenebrae,” the music seems full of pain beneath the surface, while sounding lost in child-like wonderment.

All three pieces were played by the Calidore String Quartet with emotion that reached out to the audience. I do not know the inspiration behind the program choices; however, as a novice chamber music listener, I found them to be perfect – pieces written by gifted composers and performed by a group of gifted musicians, who bring the sentiment each note demands.

The Los Angeles-based, prize-winning quartet – comprised of violinists Jeffrey Myers and Ryan Meehan, violist Jeremy Berry and cellist Estelle Choi – gave all its energy to this amazing Sanibel performance. If you missed it, I have provided a YouTube video of them performing Schubert on a helipad.

The classical evening with The Calidore String Quartet was made possible by the sponsorship of The Family of Joe Boscov and Jim and Roz Marks, as well as grand patron sponsor The Ferguson Foundation. The next BIG ARTS Classical Evening will be Feb. 27 with The Faure Quartet, a European ensemble that has performed on numerous internationally renowned stages.

You can also enjoy a Classical Afternoon Jan. 19 with Kaleidos Duo at 3:30 p.m. in Phillips Gallery. Violinist Miroslav Hristov and pianist Vladimir Valjarevic, as Kaleidos Duo, will present a program entitled “Sounds of Hungary,” which is filled with principal works from classical genres as well as compositions from lesser-known regions and composers.