Thursday, May 31, 2012

New York Classical Players - Mozart, Ravel & Dvorak - 05/24/12

David Southorn: Violinist
Elizabeth Young: Violinist
Wei-Yang Andy Lin: Violist
Jiyoung Lee: Cellist
Mozart: String Quartet No 17 in B-flat Major, “The Hunt”
Ravel: String Quartet in F Major
Dvorak: American” String Quartet Op. 96 in F Major

As a die-hard lover of the musical, gustatory and visual arts, I was absolutely thrilled to hear about the very first “Culturemerge” organized by the New York Classical Players, vinoteria and the YellowKorner Gallery. Now that it has happened, it is of course easy to wonder how come it had never happened before, especially in a city as creative and culture-centric as New York. On the other hand, it meant that my mom and I would be able to brag about attending the very first one!
Aiming for the “ultimate indulgence of the senses”, the principle behind the event is deceptively simple and devilishly clever: Three different wines (White, Red, Rosé) would be enjoyed while listening to three different musical works (Mozart, Ravel, Dvorak) performed in three different corners of the gallery (Nature, Urban, Landscape). The location of the venue in – Where else? – the heart of SoHo amped up the trendiness factor, the small, informal space was perfect for a more intimate musical experience, and the delicious amuse-bouches provided by Le Gamin Café made us feel right at home. never mind the omnipresent rain (again!).

The first theme of the evening was “Nature”, and although I doubt that Mozart had the African wilderness in mind when he composed it, his “Hunt” string quartet somehow did not feel out of place while being played before a background of splendid photos of exotic predators in their natural habitat. It is true that the superior skills of the four musicians from the New York Classical Players had a lot to do with keeping the crowd quiet and attentive as they brightly emphasized the light-hearted, elegant quality of the music. All I can say is that the remarkable Château Gaillard Sauvignon Blanc I was sipping perfectly completed a brand new and totally elating experience.
Now that we had gained momentum, we just kept going and got ready for the following theme: “Urban”. I was very eager to get to this part because not only do I love endless metropolitan excitement and strong red wines, but Ravel’s String Quartet is a favorite of mine too. The only problem was I had not finished my Sauvignon Blanc yet, so the wine component was slightly off for me, but I still thoroughly dug hearing this melodically happy, vigorously present ode to youth coming brilliantly alive in front of whole assortment of bright lights and big cities.
After making the executive decision to grab some red and forget about the rosé (Who on earth drinks rosé after red anyway?), I found a spot near the entrance of the gallery this time, where several photos of a young woman in various states of dress (or undress, depending on how you look at it) were welcoming the visitors. This was apparently the “Landscape” décor for Dvorak’s “American” Quartet, which would conclude our evening. Another standard of the chamber music répertoire, this popular piece was written while Dvorak was living in a Bohemian community in Iowa. Obviously influenced by American folk tunes, it is a highly entertaining piece, attractive and joyful. Last Thursday night, the musicians quickly made it their own and delivered a vividly evocative performance of it, as robust and satisfying as the hearty Château Lastours red wine I did manage to finish. Can’t wait for the next Culturemerge!

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