Friday, February 26, 2010

cuarteto de cuerdas

It sounds so romantic in Spanish.  Almost celestial.

One look at the string instruments in a quartet conjures up shadowy curves against gossamer gowns.  Four broad-brimmed hats and some china would make a fine garden party.

I returned from Oregon just in time to put on my best Bob Fosse costume and wander south to the Marbella Salón in Manzanillo for the latest presentation of Bellas Artes del Pacifico.  This time for the St. Petersburg String Quartet.

Four performers.  Eight hands.  Sixteen strings.  And pure joy.

Now and then several bloggers (including me) have started verbal knife fights over the virtues of compressed music files.  Not to mention the arcane differences between analog and digital recordings.

But no one disagrees about the superior experience of live music.  Even the mediocre can soar.

There was nothing mediocre about Thursday's performance.

The program was familiar.  The type of selections you would find on any Russian string quartet's résumé.  Mozart's Quartet K. 458 "The Hunt"; Glazunov's Novelettas; Schulhoff's Five Pieces for the String Quartet; Tchaikovsky's Quartet No. 1.

Some things old; a bit new/
Some things borrowed; and no blues.

Despite that bit of doggerel, I had a great time.  Even the familiar, when well-executed, is better than another evening listening to the neighbor's Céline Dion retrospective.

Each member of the quartet showed great technique.  That is not a back-handed compliment.  They were just plain good.

And stylish.  At first, I did not think that compliment would be appropriate.  On the Mozart piece, they simply did not pass their musical phrases around as the imp of Salzburg would have preferred.  They played it as -- Russians. 

No surprise there.  They are Russians.  Russian musicians.  And they were best on the Russian pieces where the darker side of the Volga flows.

Without doubt the bravest (and best) piece was the Schulhoff.  Its atonal intervals caused a bit of program rustling and the furrowing of middle brows.  But it also received a well-deserved ovation.  

While writing this, I realized how ironic it is that I have found the cultural rhythm I was seeking in Mexico just in time to head north for six months.

But there is work to do before I leave.  This week I am going to start putting together a schedule for my audition trip of the next place to live -- somewhere in the bonnie highlands.

The tentative list includes Guanajuato, San Miguel de Allende,
Querétaro, Morelia, and Pátzcuaro.

Film at 11.  Or, at least, details to follow.

For now, I will continue to bask in the harmonic tremors of Thursday's quartet.  In my own silver strings heaven.

Cuarteto de Cuerdes -- indeed.


Calypso said...

My early vote is SMA - if nothing else just because Babs and Billie are there. ;p-)

"... arcane differences between analog and digital recordings."

I am going to leave this alone - however "dramatic" might be a better word than "arcane". And you knew you would be hearing from me on this - slydog.

Inmigrante Rentista said...

Keep your list short, I think you are most suited for Guanajuato or San Miguel de Allende. Other locations would be too primitive for your lifestyle.

Tancho said...

"my best Bob Fosse costume" was that a leftover of the show you described on one of your first night out's on your entertainment circle in Melaque?

Now, your trek to check out the highlands, sounds like it is going to fall right about the hight of the rainy season?

Steve Cotton said...

Calypso -- The analog reference was just for you -- and me, of course. I thought Felipe might join the fray again.

Immigrante Rentista -- I may break the trip into two parts. But I thought I would make it a loop while I was up in the highlands.

Tancho -- Black. Just plain old black. The spangles are for show night in Melaque. And I do not mind the rain. I did not come to Mexico for the weather.

Anonymous said...

Steve, don't forget to checkout Oaxaca!


Anonymous said...

I would love to have heard the St. Petersburg String Quartet. I am glad you were able to and that it was up to your expectation.


Mic said...

Behind in my blog reading so am rather late with my comment.....
Behind in my blog reading so am rather late with my comment.....
however; tho I've never been there, from what I've read of it, Cuernavaca would be a place I'd definitely include in your audition of future places to live.