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The RTÉ Vanbrugh Quartet brought the evening to a stunning conclusion with a vital performance of the newest work -- the 1995 String Quartet No 1 of the American John Corigliano. One could easily believe that it picked up where the Ligeti quartet left off forty years earlier, employing some of the same musical qualities: atmospheric segments alternating with full-bodied lyrical sections, and bent notes scattered throughout.

Whereas Ligeti, however, went country/western with a bit of his music, Corigliano went to the American South and a few bluesy lines. Towards the end, broad notes were played most emphatically by the quartet in interesting chords. This then deconstructed, with each instrument, by turns, playing a small theme at a slightly lower pitch than previously, pulling his companions down to meet this new pitch, which then went to another instrument with the same results. Eventually, however, they all reached the same tonal home, matching perfectly. The composer would have been pleased by this performance, but he wasn't here to share in the enthusiastic applause.

Fortunately, we'll hear from all these artists again, later in the week. This was only the first of the 29 or so concerts of varying sizes to be presented during the West Cork Chamber Music Festival, held in Bantry, County Cork, Ireland. There are daily master classes with the visiting artists, and before tonight's concert, a display/demonstration of Irish instrument and bow makers. There were gorgeous violins, violas and a cello on view. The hostess of the demonstration advised us that all the craftsmen presented here were able to earn a living at their craft. How fabulous! Of course, she didn't specify how grand a living, but the joy of what they do has to count for something!

Festival dates are 30 June through 9 July 2007. To see what you're missing, visit the web-site. There may still be ticket availability if you don't dawdle.

Continue to day three >>

Copyright © 2 July 2007 Kelly Ferjutz, Bantry, Ireland



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