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Another near problem with the final scheduled work was averted when pianist Alexander Melnikov set himself the task of learning the Fauré String Quartet No 2 in G minor, Op 45 in just three days. A mix-up in communications had led the original pianist to prepare the first quartet. Had we not been told this, we'd not have known by the skillful performance that ensued. Isabelle Faust, Mr Rohde and David Cohen were the other performers for this spirited rendition. The piano lid was nearly closed, allowing the strings to be heard more equally, and the total performance was lovely.

Composed in 1886, this is a very romantic and expressive work, with long sweeping lines of melody accorded to each instrument. Overall, the playing level was of very high quality, and the musicians seemed to be enjoying themselves as much as was the audience.

After the candles in the chandelier were lit (for the last time this Festival) the Kopelman Quartet played the Shostakovich String Quartet No 3 in F major, Op 73. All the elements that distinguish a work by the Russian composer are present in this piece: the off-beat and off-key dance tune that threatens to turn manic; the staccato, unison chords that sometimes distort into a harsh, slashing nature; the martial rhythms. But then, there is a melody of such surpassing sweetness that the mind is boggled by the proximity of it to the preceding bleakness.

The gentlemen of the Kopelman Quartet have this music in their very essence, and it envelopes every note with authority and passion. There are very few notes of music by this composer that I've heard that I didn't love at first hearing, but the performances of the Kopelman Quartet (with pianist Elisabeth Leonskaja) this week have taken this music to a new level of depth and understanding. How wonderful it would be to have these performances available on CD as a record of what the composer intended, and how they should be done!

The audience clamored for more, and the obliging Quartet gave us a charming little movement of another quartet as an encore. Unfortunately, I couldn't hear the announcement of what it was, but it seemed to me to be of almost another era in the composer's life, being much lighter in nature and full of lush sonorities.

And so ended the next to the last day of the marvelous musical feast!

Copyright © 9 July 2007 Kelly Ferjutz, Bantry, Ireland



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