Marie-Anne Hovasse: Viola
Frédéric Lagarde: Cello
Anne Meunier: Violin
Marie-Laurence Rocca: Violin
Just about 23 hours after having waited for 30 minutes to enjoy 30 minutes of Mendelssohn in the Chapelle des Oblats’ cloister, which has the double advantage of not only being a naturally welcoming space with its warm-colored walls, stone fountain and olive trees, but also of being conveniently located not far from my apartment, I was back in line for another 30-minute wait before another free 30-minute performance as part of Aix-en-Provence’s Musique dans la Rue (Music in the Streets) festival, but for Alexander Borodin’s ever-popular String Quartet No.2 this time.
Making my way through the late-afternoon crowd on Sunday was not quite as challenging as it had been on Saturday, but the line of dedicated music lovers was about just as long. Not that it really mattered. I eventually got the opportunity to make a beeline for the exact same premium seat, and readied myself for a performance sans outside noise pollution, but with the expertise of four professors of the Conservatoire d’Aix-en-Provence. This could only be good.
And it was. Dedicated to Borodin’s wife to allegedly celebrate their 20 years together, his String Quartet No.2 is a superbly crafted work that openly exudes uncomplicated warmth and happiness, with just a touch of orientalism to make it even more appealing. I am not sure how good at his daytime job of chemist Borodin was—His significant contributions to the field speak well for him— but I can tell that he definitely knew how to make magic happen in the music realm.
Since they’ve been teaching and playing together for a while now, it came as no surprise that the four members of the Quatuor Darius delivered a commendably tight and committed performance. The delightful journey started when they opened Borodin’s treasure trove of luxuriant melodies, and went on as they brought them all to glorious life. The unabashedly luminous Notturno was as enchanting as ever, but in the end, it was only one more component of another deeply fulfilling musical experience on another beautiful late-summer evening in Aix.