Friday, April 20, 2012

Wiener Klassik

At the 92nd Street Y last night, I had the great pleasure of hearing Quatuor Mosaïques, a Vienna-based original-instruments string quartet - they play on gut, and haven't been in the US in ten years, and it was very heaven. The program was three full quartets - Haydn Op. 20, No. 3 in g minor (1772), Mozart K 458 in B-flat major, "The Hunt" (1784) and Beethoven Op. 135 in F major (1826). Had one any doubts about the capacity and the sublimity of this genre Haydn established, they were dispelled, and dispelled again, deliciously. Am I reporting doubts of my own? It's true, I don't usually go to concerts of the 18th century Vienna all-stars, though I'll go for quartets by Janacek or Bartok or Shostakovich  and I always enjoy the earlier works paired with them (often Haydn). But this was perfect all by itself, complete, not in need of 20th century amplification, contrast or consummation. It's why they call it classical music, I thought to myself - a pure kind of beauty formal rather than narrative or descriptive or even just expressive, but (so!) still full of drama, and humor too.

It took me back to the chamber concerts I got to hear in Vienna when we lived there 1976-78. And guess what: Quatuor Mosaïques was in San Diego on Monday. My parents were in the audience (and we didn't coordinate!). That's classic, too!

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