Calder Quartet at Lake Luzerne program switcheroo

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Calder Quartet at Lake Luzerne program switcheroo

Post by jbuck919 » Tue Jul 08, 2014 12:52 pm

I attended Monday (July 7) night's performance by The Calder Quartet at the (very) local Lake Luzerne Music Festival, associated with a youth music camp mentored mainly by musicians from Philadelphia. (It more or less coincides with the presence of the Philadelphia Orchestra at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center.) I an earlier thread on the music board I had complained that the series had not published programs very far in advance. Well, the programs have been available for a while now. The problem, if it is that, is that last night's performance didn't follow the published program.

I was expecting a performance of Thomas Adès Arcadiana, Janaczek's String Quartet No. 2, and the Beethoven Opus 131. Instead, it was announced that the cellist had become a father at about the time the plane was boarding so had to drop out. He was replaced, and so was the program. (The replacement was the violist's father, a cellist with the Boston Symphony.)

Believe it or not (for those who have followed my posts for a long time), I was actually looking forward to the entire program. I admit that if after the intermission they had been playing Borodin instead of Beethoven I probably would have stayed away, but I did want to hear the unfamiliar works in the first part. So I braced myself for some wrenching change that would make me regret that I just paid $30 at the door. Instead they announced the following: Mozart's Quartet in G Major K 387, the Ravel Quartet, and Schubert's D minor quartet "Death and the Maiden." So I got a program of the very familiar, but what a program!

I tend to feel at a loss to comment about the quality of a performance by an established quartet. The modern standard is essentially perfection and no group attempts the task unless they can do it to the highest standard to begin with.. If I couldn't hear a certain plucked note by the first violinist, if an expressive turn was not quite what I was expecting, it is hardly worth putting in a review. Certainly the performance was not diminished because they were working with a different cellist. (I will say, though, that many years ago I attended a performance by the Tokyo Quartet at the Yale/Norfolk summer series. They also performed the Ravel Quartet, and I remember being disappointed at what I considered an undisciplined, almost undiomatic performance.)

It was a rainy night and there were probably no more than 25 paying customers in a music shed that holds maybe 200. The custom is to let the public sit first, and then the students and staff fill in the remaining seats, usually at the back. Last night the students got to fill in the front seats, and since I was by choice in the fourth row (open seating), I got to observe these kids as audience members. This was the junior cohort, ages 9 through 14. The older kids come later in a second batch. They were all very considerate, well versed in how a classical audience should behave, and at times seriously appreciative. However, it was clear that some of them were having a little trouble maintaining interest over a program like this one. Being young and musically gifted doesn't mean being a precocious listener. I myself would not have known to do with such a program before I was in my mid-teens.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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