Sunday, March 24, 2013

Heights Arts Close Encounters: Salute to the Cleveland Quartet

Bartok: Selections from 44 Duos for Two Violins, Sz. 98, BB 104¹²
Dvorak: Piano Quartet in E-flat Major, Op. 87³ª°^
Brahms: Sextet for 2 Violins, 2 Violas, and 2 Cellos in G-Major, Op. 87¹*ª°`
¹-Donald Weilerstein, violin; ²-Peter Salaff, violin; ³-Mari Sato, violin; ª-Kirsten Docter, viola; °-Merry Peckham, cello; ^-Vivian Weilerstein, Piano; *- Isabel Trautwein, violin; `- Tanya Ell, cello.
At the Dunham Tavern Museum Barn, Cleveland.

This afternoon's concert was special -- bringing back together the Peter Salaff and Donald Weilerstein, the original violinists of the renown Cleveland Quartet, along with members of protégé the Cavani Quartet and other students. Even I, generally blissfully unaware of "names", was aware of the duo's significance.

The concert opened with Messers Weilierstein and Salaff providing an appetizer plate of fourteen of Bartok's 44 Duos for Two Violins, each bite-size and relatively fast, and each one had a very different feeling. While the two musicians have been separated for many years, they played as if they have never parted ways. The only downside to having so many short pieces was that you couldn't really fully immerse yourself in a piece before it was over and on to the next piece.

Dvorak's Piano Quartet was next on the program, and the body heat from a sold-out barn combined with the relaxing and faultless music made closing ones eyes to just enjoy the sounds a potentially dangerous endeavor. I'm generally a fan of Dvorak, and though this piece didn't, to me, have the texture to the extremes as say his From the New World, it was still very enjoyable, with Rachel noting that the second movement gave her goosebumps, and generally both of us very much appreciating Ms. Weilerstein's work at the piano.

The third, final, an most substantial piece on the program was Brahms's Sextet, once again impeccably executed. Rachel and I both noted the "front and center" nature of the cellos which, while anchoring the piece and giving it a full body, and not merely lurking as the foundation for the other instruments. Throughout the piece the musicians were clearly enjoying their playing, and I think the relaxed-but-precise feeling, the opposite of the tense/restrained feeling I got from last night's Orchestra concert, though the fourth movement was my favorite by a narrow margin.

As we were walking out Rachel mentioned "I think this was the best one yet" -- and as a matter of fact, I think she may be right.

The next an last concert in this season, Schubertiade with the Omni Quartet is on Saturday, May 11th at 8pm -- for tickets call 216.371.3457 or visit

(Disclosure: I serve on the board of Heights Arts)

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