Thursday, March 11, 2010

Hugo Wolf Quartet, 10 March 2010

Last night Mighty Reader and I went to hear the Hugo Wolf Quartet in concert. The program was:

Haydn: String Quartet No. 26 in G Minor, Op. 20, No. 3
Janacek: String Quartet No. 2 ("Intimate Letters")
Brahms: String Quartet No. 3 in B-flat Major, Op. 67

second movement of Mozart's Qtet No. 21 in D major ('Prussian 1'), K. 575

I love a good string quartet and these nice folks from Vienna easily exceeded my expectations. The players are all pretty young (early to mid-30s, I'd say) and I have no idea how long they've been together (the quartet itself began in 1993 and these are not the founding members), but their ensemble was wonderful, the balance of instruments just right (though I might have liked a little more force from the first violinist, Sebastian Gürtler) and the program, as you can see, was fabu. I'm happy that Papa Haydn's music is getting out more, and it always gladdens my old heart to see 20th-century music on the bill. The Janacek is one of my favorite pieces, especially the rollicking 4th movement, and I was pleased when Mighty Reader gave it her approval. She turns out to be a fan of 20th-century chamber music. Who knew? I did suspect that she'd like the Janacek because she loved the Emerson's performance last year of a Webern quartet, but it's nice when I get these things right.

The Brahms was good, naturally, being Brahms. I like his chamber music (there's a video around the internet somewhere of Henryk Szeryng playing the Hungarian Dance No. 17 that you should watch if you can find it) and this is a nice piece. It's Brahms, so it's long and it was beastly hot in the hall after the intermission (what's up with that, Meany Hall management?) so I was sort of drifty and sleepy during the first two movements, but it was still lovely and amazing. The third movement has all the strings but the viola muted, and there was an amusing-if-clumsy moment while Mr. Gürtler dug his mute from his pants pocket. I wonder if they hired him for comic relief as well as playing ability, because now that I remember it, he forgot his music for the Haydn and had to run back stage to fetch it before the show could even start. Kids these days.

The encore was swell, and everyone got swoony over Florian's cello solo and if anyone tells me again that Mozart's music is light and frivolous, I'm going to hit them with something heavy.

I bought their new CD and had them autograph it after the show. They seem like nice kids and I hope they record the Janacek soon. "Maybe in two years," they told me. I guess I'll wait.


  1. Lucky you. I love Haydn. It must have been lovely.

  2. I went to see a concert last night too! It was here at UCLA, a French orchestra and they were fantastic. The entire concert was Ravel, including "Mother Goose" which was lovely.

  3. This reminds me that I need to hunt up some concerts by the pros. Lately I've only been to high school/middle school concerts and while there's plenty of enthusiasm the ability level is just not there. Last fall though I saw this amazing violinist at a fundraiser. I wish I could remember the piece he played. I absolutely loved it. It was 20th century and showcased so many different things that a violin can do. Now that I'm thinking about it I'm going to run see if I can find the program from the evening online. I'll let you know if I find it.