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Hudson Valley Chamber Music

by Stephen Kaye
Mon Oct 17th, 2016

Caroline Shaw, composer, singer and violinist

On a clear October Sunday afternoon, the Hudson Valley Chamber Music Circle   gathered at the coach house on Wethersfield for a concert curated by Joan Tower, a composer and mentor at Bard’s music conservatory.  She chose four students who had formed a string quartet.  They were surprising in their confidence and ability to project; they were already seasoned performers with plenty of concerts in their background.  

The most interesting piece was by Caroline Shaw, a living composer who, at age 30, won a Pulitizer.  Her Entr’acte  shows her handling musical material with ease and deliberation.  It was composed for the Brentano Quartet who give the premiere in 2011.  It is inspired by Haydn’s quartet Opus 77, no. 2 whose melodic strains appear in various forms and guises in the piece that has a near formal structure.

It begins with a tentative suggestion of a Haydnesque melody, builds from the faint to the assertive; it disintegrates into fuzzy sounds.  A second section is all pizzicato, lovely folk-like baroque sounds.  It then moves to stronger melodic section that disintegrates into dissonances; it then recovers, again using plucked strings.  It ends with a cello solo slowly disappearing into mist.  One feels that we are listening to memory where strands of music are recovered from a distant past that then fade  into the mists of time and then are recovered again.

The players in the Tecchler Quartet that performed for the HVCMC are Valory Hight and Gitto Marko, violins, Joseph Burke, viola and Emily Mundstet, cello.  They played Violin Duets by Bartok, a searing Allegretto from Shotakovich’s Quartet no. 8 and a solo viola by Henri Viextemps, a wonderful diversity of fine music.