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By contrast the quartet brought sweetness and warmth to Johannes Brahms's String Quartet in C minor Op 51 No 1. As Mainly Mozart Festival artistic director Frank Cooper pointed out, Brahms destroyed as many as twenty string quartets before he allowed this one to be published. Brahms was a relentless perfectionist who was deeply aware of writing in the shadow of Beethoven. His C minor Quartet is richly romantic with a font of great melody as only Brahms could produce. Keith Robinson's cello solo in the Romanza: Poco Adagio was aglow in rich, darkly burnished tone. The superb ensemble and glowing tone of the Miami foursome brought a ravishing ardor and romantic affirmation to this beautiful movement that was the high point of a memorable performance. Chan's fierce power in the opening Allegro kept the performance lilting -- borne aloft on wings of song. The passion of the Allegretto poco moderato e comodo was never allowed to become overly sentimental. The performance had a natural, joyous flow that was an aural delight. The spirited rendition of the Allegro finale capped a wonderfully idiomatic, loving performance. The music resounded anew as if it were being heard for the first time. A dedicated, wonderfully subtle performance of a chamber music landmark!

Even Hugo Wolf's Italian Serenade was given a fresh, electrifying interpretation. Instead of the usual light-hearted romp, this performance found power and emotional resonance in the music. Chan's intense, slightly wiry tone gave Wolf's score a sense of tension and energy. Beneath the score's outward Mediterranean light, the quartet found inner turmoil and menacing clouds. An edgy, intense deconstruction of a familiar score -- a small scale musical revelation!

The Miami String Quartet has given South Florida a legacy of great music making. Their revelatory Brahms and Wolf and their superlative interpretation of Shostakovich's visionary masterpiece were performances to treasure! An unforgettable concert and a great opening for the eleventh Mainly Mozart Festival!

Copyright © 4 June 2004 Lawrence Budmen, Miami Beach, USA



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