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The second of the three summer chamber music concerts presented by Duke: Ciompi Quartet Presents at Kirby Horton Hall on the grounds of the Sarah P. Duke gardens was titled “A Summer Serenade – Music in a Lighter Vein from Italy to Argentina.” Indeed it was lighter music, but certainly not frivolous or inconsequential.
The concert featured Oren Fader, a very busy classical guitarist who performs widely in New York and is a champion of contemporary music, having premiered over 400 works with guitar. Cellist Elizabeth Anderson is heard throughout the northeast; she was an Associate Professor of Cello at UNC-G, is known in a wide variety of musical styles, and appears as a vocalist as well as a cellist in North Indian classical music. Laura Gilbert, flutist, has performed around the world as chamber musician, soloist, recitalist and guest lecturer. Violist Jonathan Bagg is Professor of the Practice of Music at Duke University and a member of the Ciompi String Quartet.
The performance opened with Franz Schubert’s arrangement of Wenzel Matiegka’s Notturno, Op 21, originally for flute, viola, and guitar. Schubert adapted it for use in one of his family's regular household music sessions. He added a cello part for his father, reworked the viola part, and intended to play the guitar part himself. He also added a second Trio to the minuet movement and made other minor revisions. This version is known as Schubert’s Quartet in G, D. 96. This evening, all four artists played three selected movements from the work. The Moderato was exceedingly charming and a bit playful, ending in a sort of trick cadence; first softly and then, after a brief pause, loudly. It delighted the audience and brought spontaneous applause. The Lento e patetico was achingly lyrical, almost reaching the level of pathos near the end. The Zingara, a Gypsy dance, was all fire and passion.
Quatre piéces intimes (1997), by Dušan Bogdanović, a Serbian-born American composer and classical guitarist born in 1955, was written for guitar and cello. It explores the moods implied by the movement’s titles. "Priére" is a rich and reverent song. "Mouvement" is a virtuosic rhythmic journey. "La Harpe de David" is a mystical evocation of David’s harp, and "Chant" is a lyrical setting, mostly for cello solo with guitar obbligato. The composer used a variety of modern techniques to make his points, and ithe work was most effectively performed.
French composer Albert Roussel’s (1869-1937) earliest interest was not in music but mathematics. He spent time in the French Navy, and only later in life turned to music. He studied at the Schola Cantorum de Paris where one of his teachers was Vincent d'Indy; he also taught there. His students included Erik Satie, Edgard Varèse, and Bohuslav Martinů. His earlier works showed the influence of Debussy and Ravel, but later he turned to neoclassicism.
His Serenade, Op 30 written for flute, viola, and cello, is clearly in the impressionistic mode. The three movements, marked Allegro, Andante, and Presto, employ the oriental, pentatonic and whole-tone scales that give impressionism its unique airy and open sound. The middle movement was rapturously lyrical and the two outer movements had elements of charming playfulness. It was altogether a delightful piece to hear.
After intermission, Gilbert and Fader returned for a performance of Astor Piazzolla’s (1921-92) iconic Histoire du Tango. They chose to play three movements that capture moments in the development of the tango. "Bordello, 1900" represents the origins of the tango in Buenos Aires. It captures the grace and high-spirited vitality of the music. "Café, 1930" presents a more musically developed and romantic view of tango. There was a hint of melancholy in this music. "Nightclub, 1960" introduces us to the modern tango, still maintaining its grace and charm, and now including flavors of international music and jazz. Piazzolla is known as the “Tango King,” and this piece of music has been arranged for just about every combination of instruments imaginable.
The concert closed with Nicolò Paganini’s (1782-1840) Terzetto Concertante for guitar, viola, and cello. It is in four movements: an Allegro that captures the flourishing of early 19th century romanticism, a charming Minuetto, a lovely lyrical Adaig,o and a robust Valtz a Rondo.
The performances of both these post-intermission scores were technically and musically impressive.
The Summer Serenade concert was indeed filled with light and airy music, much of it with emotional depth and some of it profound in its own way. It was a most welcomed and delightful evening in the midst of this soggy season. The last concert in the Ciompi’s summer series at Kirby Horton Hall is on August 13. Please see our calendar