Friday, November 22, 2002
Brilliant performances of Baroque string quartets
Quartetto Montis Regalis Cambridge Society for Early Music
Last Thursday night at Union Hall, the Cambridge Society for Early Music (CSEM) opened its Chamber Music by Candlelight series with a spectacular performance by the Quartetto Montis Regalis, direct from Turin, Italy. The group played string quartets by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Luigi Boccherini, and the nearly unknown Josef Myslivecek, performing on authentic period instruments. It was a pleasure to hear such pure sound, played with perfect intonation and without vibrato, and enhanced by the wonderful acoustics of the hall.
The four musicians are virtuoso players in careers entirely dedicated to early music. They have performed widely and recorded throughout Europe, individually, in orchestras and as a quartet. In the concert they combined great technical skill with a clear understanding of the composers' intent, and demonstrated musicianship found only in the very best of ensembles.
The instruments were particularly interesting. The violins and viola were a little smaller than their modern counterparts, while the violincello was a little longer than today's cello. It is held between the knees, rather than being supported on a peg. All had shorter fingerboards and narrower necks than contemporary instruments. All, except the cello, had been modified during the 19
The ensemble performed five quartets. The evening began with Boccherini's very first, and ended with one of his most sophisticated, composed 27 years later, in 1788. Cellist Giovanna Barbati's spectacular playing was especially noteworthy in the latter. (It should be noted that Boccherini himself was a virtuoso cellist.) Two lovely Mozart works surrounded the intermission. A quartet by the mysterious Myslivecek reminded us of the many popular contemporaries of Mozart whose compositions have disappeared into oblivion over time.
The audience was very responsive to the beautiful music, beautifully played, and demanded many curtain calls from the Quartetto. A reception after the concert offered delicious cakes and pastries, and the opportunity to meet and to talk with the performers.
We have said it before, but it deserves repeating. Carlisle is most fortunate to have such world-class performers brought into our midst by CSEM. This is its 22
© 2002 The Carlisle Mosquito