Philomusica Quartet opens its 5th season
Violinists Alexander Mandl and Jeanyi Kim, violist Nathan Hackett and cellist Adrien Zitoun played Mozart, Bartok, Beethoven.
Monday night marked the opening of the fifth season of the Philomusica Quartet. Violinists Alexander Mandl and Jeanyi Kim, violist Nathan Hackett and cellist Adrien Zitoun celebrated with music by three composers closely associated with the string quartet.
The program opened with Mozart’s Quartet in B-Flat, K. 159, a genial, lightweight piece of music from the composer’s adolescence. The Philomusica played it well, applying just the right touch of drama to the storm and stress of the second movement and a light touch on the rest of it.
Pianist Winston Choi joined them for Bartók’s early Piano Quintet, from 1904, prior to the development of Bartók’s own voice as a composer. He had mixed feelings about the piece and buried it, so successfully that it was believed lost for about 40 years. I can understand why Bartók did that. While the piece is beautifully composed, it has very little in common with his mature works. It most resembles the music of Brahms, with echoes of Liszt and possibly a touch of Debussy. Hungarian influences appear as Hungarian-in-quotation-marks of 19th century Viennese cafés, not the authentic Hungarian music Bartók found in his field work and detailed studies of Hungarian folk traditions.
The highlight of the concert was their performance of Beethoven’s Quartet in C minor, opus 18 No. 4. While the Mozart and Bartók were very clearly youthful compositions, the Beethoven sounded like the work of a mature master at the top of his game. The members of Philomusica again gave an excellent performance.
Next up for the Philomusica: Mozart, Haydn, Glass, Beethoven on Jan. 28. The Philomusica performs at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music, where it is quartet in residence.