St. Lawrence Quartet Concert Review

St. Lawrence Concert Review

Several forces were visible at the concert on Sunday afternoon, March 11th, 2012 at Stanford University Dinkelspiel Music Hall:

  • A. The ability of Ludwig van Beethoven to continue to draw a huge crowd to a performance of Beethoven’s string quartets. And this is in spite of the fact that this man has been dead since 1827…
  • B. The reputation of the St. Lawrence quartet as a terrific performing group, capable of showing us great virtuosity and fine spiritual intimacy in their playing.

I came early; and I could see a rather large number of older folks arriving early with the aids of their canes. These were veterans of the Stanford chamber music scene, performers, and lovers of Beethoven, all set to enjoy a rare time out for a live performance.

As is frequently the case in an all Beethoven program, the St. Lawrence quartet performed music from the Master’s three major periods:

  • • The Quartet number 4, Op. 18, number 4, composed around 18000, when Beethoven was 30
  • • The Quartet number 7, OP. 59, number 1, known as the first Razumovsky quartet, composed in 1806
  • • The Quartet number 12, Op. 127, which comes from the final period in Beethoven’s life, composed around 1825, among the 5 final works written by him.

The hall at Stanford University was seemingly completely sold out. In front of my seat was a family of 4, with their two kids, using the opportunity to have the kids experience something special. (the program was too long for them, however, so they left at intermission…)

The performance overall was excellent. Cellist Christopher Constanza had many opportunities to shine, and I could see how much he enjoyed that, because he frequently smiled as he kept excellent eye – contact with the other players. For the most part, the sound had good balance, yet it was dominated by the two violins and the cello. I had to strain to hear the viola, which seemed to remain in the background.

While all three selections are masterpieces and historic compositions in the string quartet literature, I enjoyed the first selection (Op. 18) least of all. For me, it seemed as though the group had played it so often that it lost some of its novelty and intimacy. However, the Razumovsky and the Op. 127 were huge successes. We heard really fine playing, great sensitivity, and periods of outstanding hush, contrasted with exciting conclusions. While this group loves the music of Josef Haydn, they gave Mr. Beethoven the care and respect that he truly deserves!

Click HERE for an older video with previous quartet members

And here is the music of Dvorak, played with the current members of the quartet.

Tags: St. Lawrence Quartet, Concert Review, Sunday March 11 2012

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