Schubert: “Quartettsatz” in C Minor, D. 703
Haydn: String Quartet in E-flat Major, Op. 33
Brahms: String Quartet in C Minor, Op. 51, No 1
Beside routinely presenting classical music's biggest names in its acoustically perfect environment, Carnegie Hall has also been involved in bringing live music to every corner of New York’s five boroughs for decades now. Those neighborhood concerts are free, open to all and feature a wide range of exciting artists playing all kinds of music.
That’s how my friend Lisa and I ventured yesterday evening into the Lower East Side for a concert by the Miró Quartet, one of the major chamber music ensembles in the US today. The University Settlement had a nice little space where about 100 people eventually crammed in before the quartet took the stage with a 20-minute delay, more due to late-comers than any lack of readiness, and quickly proved that they were worth every second of the wait.
Schubert’s "Quartettsatz" may be short in quantity, but undeniably does not lack in quality. Its lively, fluent treatment in the hands of the Miró Quartet was the perfect way to assert the musicians’ brilliance while establishing a warm connection with the eclectic audience.
As everybody was getting into the mood for music, Haydn’s refined classicism as well as his robust joie de vivre shone light and bright through his String Quartet in E-Flat Major. After three breezily elating movements came the famous last one, in which each pause is longer than the previous one, making it impossible to determine when the piece is actually over. This was a solid success and living proof the even classical music composers, musicians and aficionados have a sense of humor.
After the Viennese Master’s clear and clean elegance, we readily moved on to more humanly passions with the master of Romanticism and his own string quartet. In this case again, Johannes Brahms lived up to his reputation as the ultimate perfectionist by burning no fewer than 25 works before coming up with his String Quartet in C Minor. And he probably would have been extremely pleased with the red hot interpretation of his vibrant first release by the Miró Quartet yesterday. Strongly emphasizing the instantaneously catchy drama and lyricism of the composition, the ensemble played with infectious but controlled energy and delivered a colorful, genuinely engaging performance enjoyed by all.