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Quartetto di Cremona Perform in NYC

Photo by Pete Checchia.

At Weill Recital Hall, on the evening of Thursday, October 26th, I had the exceptional pleasure to attend an astonishing concert featuring the extraordinary Quartetto di Cremona, the members of which include violinists Cristiano Gualco and Paolo Andreoli, violist Simone Gramaglia and cellist Giovanni Scaglione.

The program began marvelously with a sterling account of Hugo Wolf’s wonderful Italian Serenade, his most famous piece outside the genre of the lied. Even more remarkable was a stunning rendition of Maurice Ravel’s glorious String Quartet—one of the supreme masterpieces of the form—the shimmering textures of which strongly recall the composer’s orchestral works. The initial Allegro moderato has a surprising intensity becoming more lyrical in passages and ending quietly, followed by an especially bewitching, briskly paced and energetic movement—markedAssez vif—with evocative, impressionistic sonorities. The subdued, reflective slow movement that succeeds it is solemn and more unconventional in structure while the dynamicfinaleis the most turbulent of the movements.

The second half of the event—devoted to a magisterial performance of Ludwig van Beethoven’s awesome, ambitious String Quartet in A Minor, Op. 132—was maybe equally memorable. Much of the opening Allegro is highly charged music although it is interlaced with that of a lighter, more graceful character, preceding an Allegro ma non tanto that is more cheerful, almost Mozartean, but with some intimations of greater seriousness. The weighty, exalting, slow movement—with a tempo of Molto adagio—has a religious gravity but with interpolations of melodious, quasi-Baroque episodes. The fourth movement—Alla marcia, assai vivace—is spirited and charming with contrasting interludes of an almost tragic cast while the exhilarating finale—marked Allegro appassionato—is exultant. An enthusiastic ovation was rewarded with an amazing encore: the incomparable First Counterpoint from Johann Sebastian Bach’s final work,The Art of the Fugue.

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