Tag Archives: Delray String Quartet

Briefs: Classical TV, Obama’s music, a quartet premiere



The press of business being what it is, I’ll have to do news briefs:

Classical TV: Next month, Classical TV will launch online with events such as pay-per-view opera; this is a British effort run by Chris Hunt, who was the chief executive of London’s DCD Media. Like Medici TV, a joint European effort that I became a big fan of last year, the organizers of Classical TV are promising a lot of good video of classical music along with jazz and theater (which explains that Victor/Victoria bill in the upper left of the placeholder screen).

I applaud any and all efforts to make classical music events as normative as possible, because they are in the first place, and in the second, sending this content over the Net is going to be one of the very best ways to keep interest in this music not just alive but thriving. I’ll be checking it out next month for sure.

Music for Obama: I really should do a longer piece on ceremonial music and whether it’s necessary for it to be wonderful or not. Aside from her hat, the most notable thing about Aretha Franklin’s performance of My Country, ‘Tis of Thee was how her voice has gotten lighter and thinner over the years. It was an extravagant performance of the song, but I sort of liked it.

The other interesting piece was the piano quartet with clarinet featuring Gabriela Montero, Itzhak Perlman, Yo-Yo Ma and Anthony McGill (seen at the top of this post). I thought John Williams’ piece wasn’t bad; it was American-sounding in a Coplandesque way, and it was a nice touch for the inauguration. It’s hard, though, even though it was short, to have what is essentially an intimate piece of chamber music played for a gigantic event like the Obama inaugural.

But I can see the piece doing well as an additional filler on a chamber music program with the Messiaen Quartet for the End of Time; it provides another good reason to keep the clarinetist around, and I have a feeling we might be hearing some more of the work in seasons to come. (Here’s an NYT piece about the practice sessions for the work.)

Quartet to come: I’ve been looking this week at the score for Thomas Sleeper’s new Third String Quartet, which gets a premiere next week by the group for which it was written, the Delray String Quartet. The Delrays will have their work cut out for them; this is a demanding piece, though not impossible, and I think it will make a strong impression.

I don’t know how often critics these days look at the scores of pieces before premieres. I’ve always tried to do it whenever I could since it gives me a chance to know what’s going to happen and give the work perhaps a more judicious hearing. But on the other hand, there’s something to be said for hearing it for the first time just like everyone around you, and in sometimes I don’t know which approach is better.

Two months: Palm Beach ArtsPaper marked two months of existence today, and soon we hope to have the new Website up and running. We’re also looking forward to some print versions of the online content before long.

News notes: A Delray Quartet CD; organ recitals return

I hear: The Delray String Quartet is about to release its first album, an all-Dvorak effort featuring the A major Quintet (with pianist Tao Lin) and the American Quartet (No. 12 in F). The release of the disc will be celebrated at the group’s first concert of the season, now set for Dec. 14 at the Colony Hotel in Delray.

The program will include the American Quartet along with the entire Florida Suite of Frederick Delius, in a change from previous plans that had featured a movement from the suite at successive concerts.

Also, the Delray will welcome a new cellist, Susan Moyer, who replaces Ian Maksin. Moyer was the cellist at the very first Delray concert, though she told me at the time she was just filling in for an absent Maksin. Moyer is a fine musician who has distinguished herself for years here as a first-class chamber player in appearances with the Palm Beach Chamber Music Festival, for one.

I’m happy to see the Delray releasing its first disc, and I think the Dvorak selections will appeal to a broad audience of listeners. But one hopes the quartet will soon find fresh repertoire to play. Thomas Sleeper’s Third Quartet, a world premiere later this sesason and a Delray Quartet commission, could theoretically be a good place to start.

Organ recitals return: A series of organ recitals at Bethesda-by-the-Sea in Palm Beach return for another year, starting Oct. 26, and continuing Nov. 9 and 16.

This series, which began a few years back, spotlights the large number of talented organists who live in this part of Florida. Nine of them will be featured in the recitals, with three each on every program.

These are very cozy affairs, given the large performance space; the crowds have been surprisingly large, and there’s been plenty of good music every time.

One of the best things about the series is that audiences get to hear more of what is an enormous and fascinating repertoire, and I’m glad to see the concerts continue.

My must-sees for the classical season, Part I

The classical music season in this part of the state is about to get rolling in earnest, so here’s a first list of what looks good to me coming up.It’s a short list, and I’ll have a second one, likely longer, tomorrow:

New World Symphony: The finest orchestral ensemble in South Florida, led by Michael Tilson Thomas, plans many must-see events that will more than likely see me making the trip down to Lincoln Road on Miami Beach. There’s a U.S. premiere of the Irish composer Gerald Barry’s one-acter The Stronger (Nov. 22), in a concert conducted by the English composer Thomas Ades, who also has two works on that same program.

The American composer Kevin Puts (at right) will hear his new Hymn to the Sun on Nov. 8-9, and American music also will be represented April 26 in a program of music by Lou Harrison, Tilson Thomas, Ives, Bernstein, and Crumb. I’m also excited about planned performances of the Mahler First on Jan. 29 (violinist Joshua Bell does the Saint-Saens Third on the same bill) and on March 28-29, the Nielsen Fifth (the Sixth under Paavo Jarvi was a highlight of an NWS concert several years back).

The Korngold Violin Concerto is scheduled for Nov. 8-9 with soloist Vadim Gluzman, and the fine young Chinese pianist Yuja Wang, whose Netcast recital this summer at the Verbier Festival in Switzerland showed me an intriguing young artist, comes to town for the Ravel Concerto for the Left Hand and the Stravinsky Capriccio in concerts Oct. 17-19. Actually, I’d be happy to see pretty much everything on this group’s bill this season. Box office: 305-673-3331

Lynn Philharmonia: This is the Lynn U. orchestra, composed of students from the school’s conservatory, formerly the Harid Conservatory. The group, led by director Albert-George Schram, can be inconsistent but when it’s good — as when they took on the Shostakovich 10th Symphony a couple seasons ago — it’s very good, and well worth seeking out. Its first of its six concerts (this Saturday night and Sunday afternoon) under Lynn dean Jon Robertson, features the Rachmaninov Third Concerto with the Armenian-born pianist Sergei Babayan.

I’ll go to that one, and I’m also interested in the Feb. 21-22 concerts, which will see Schram and his charges take on the Bartok Concerto for Orchestra as well as the Mozart Symphony No. 29 and Leonard Bernstein’s Candide overture. Information: Call 237-9000.

Delray String Quartet: In their fifth season, the Colony Hotel-based foursome offers five programs this year, four of which will feature arrangements of the movements of Frederick Delius’ Florida Suite. Delius lived in Florida, near modern-day Palatka, in the 1880s, where he studied harmony with an itinerant musician and failed to get an orange grove going.

I’m most interested in the Feb. 1 concert, which will feature a world premiere: the String Quartet No. 2 of Thomas Sleeper, the well-known University of Miami composer who was commissioned by the Delrays to write the work. The concert also includes the Brahms Clarinet Quintet with guest soloist Paul Green, and the “Sunset Near the Plantation” movement from the Delius suite. For more information: 213-4138.

Seraphic Fire: Patrick Quigley offers another brilliant series of programs for his chamber choir and the new Firebird Chamber Orchestra, which debuts Thursday at the Arsht Center in Miami in a program of music by David Diamond, Samuel Barber, Telemann and Vivaldi. The two will combine in November for Bach’s Cantata No. 82 (Ich habe genug) and December for Handel’s Messiah. I’m particulary interested in the choir’s Ikon program (Feb. 12-15) which will feature music in the Russian Orthodox tradition (Part, Tavener), the April program (April 16-19), featuring Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater, and the May 14-17 programs, which give pride of place to Salamone Rossi, the most eminent of early Jewish classical composers.

Seraphic Fire has added Thursday afternoon concerts at West Palm Beach’s Harriet Himmel Theater this year for non-orchestra concerts. For more information: 305-476-0260.

Music at St. Paul’s: This series at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Delray Beach looks unusually rich this season. I’m partial to the March 21 concert, which will feature the church choir and the Sinfonia del Re in music by Haydn, Charpentier and Karl Jenkins.

The Bach Legacy, a May 17 program featuring music by C.P.E. and J.C. Bach, along with Krebs and Abel, should also enlighten audiences about the rich legacy of music J.S. Bach’s sons and disciples carried on after the master’s death. Information: 278-6003.