The Amernet String Quartet at the
Florida International University Music Festival,
reviewed by LAWRENCE BUDMEN
Maurice Ravel (1875-1937) was the ultimate instrumental colorist. His music combined dazzling bursts of musical light with Gallic elegance and the rigorous formalism of a classicist. His String Quartet in F (composed in 1902-03) is one of the true gems of the chamber music literature. The Impressionistic tints, perfumed beauty, and Oriental exoticism of this work take its musical content to another realm. The felicitous scoring and startling bursts of instrumental color are the essence of French art. This intimate masterpiece of the twenty-seven year old Ravel was never surpassed by its composer for sheer magical artistic invention. The Amernet String Quartet gave a suave, wonderfully idiomatic performance of this score on 27 October 2004 at the Wertheim Performing Arts Center Concert Hall in Miami, Florida, USA. The concert marked the Amernet foursome's début as Artists-in-Residence at Florida International University and the opening of the FIU Music Festival 2004.
The Amernet Quartet (Misha Vitenson and Marcia Littley de Arias, violins; Michael Klotz, viola; and Javier Arias, cello) made an impressive South Florida début last fall at Festival Miami 2003. For warmth of instrumental sound and balance, supple phrasing, and strongly felt intensity of musical line, this group rivals the best European chamber music ensembles. The richly burnished tonal sonority of Vitenson's and Klotz's newly acquired Amati instruments gives the Amernet a velvet cushion of sound that is distinctive. This is a group whose first goal is to serve the composer. In a diverse program, the Amernet foursome gave highly committed, thoughtfully conceived performances that traversed varied musical idioms and fashions.
The singing tone and emotional depth that the quartet brought to the opening Allegro moderato-Tres doux movement of the Ravel quartet were the hallmarks of a sterling performance! The blinding flashes of instrumental color in the Assez vif-Tres rhyhtme were brilliantly evoked. The soaring tone of Vitenson and Klotz's playing perfectly captured the Asian exotica of the music. Gently plucked strings conjured up a magical aura! The shimmering, hazy mist of Tres lent was almost mystical. Time seemed to stand still as the Amernet foursome poured forth an arc of mysterious, ethereal sound. The agitated, heated intensity of the concluding Vit Et agite capped a deeply probing, idiomatic performance that captured Ravel's myriad fountain of instrumental timbres. The score's musical photoplay of light and shade was richly served. A marvelous reinvention of a great work!
Copyright © 23 November 2004
Lawrence Budmen, Miami Beach, USA