Monday, March 23, 2009

Noe Valley Chamber Music: SFPQ

Noe Valley Chamber Music
The Noe Valley Ministry
Sunday, March 22, 2009 4:00 PM

SFPQ (San Francisco Piano Quartet)
Robin Sharp, violin
Elizabeth Prior, viola
Angela Lee, cello
Avi Downes, piano

Dvořák - Coming to America

Antonin Dvořák: Piano Quartet in E flat Major, Op.87
Harry Burleigh: Spiritual for piano solo
Rubin Goldmark: 1st movt. of Piano Quartet in A Major, Op. 12
George Gershwin: Three Preludes for Violin & Piano arr. Jascha Heifetz
Leonard Bernstein: Meditations for Viola & Piano
Sam Bass: Jazz Sonata for Cello & Piano

This was a pleasant & varied program of mostly short pieces organized around the theme of American classical music. The Dvořák Piano Quartet framed the concert, the 1st 3 movements being played at the beginning, then the Finale being given at the end. Pianist Avi Downes read prepared programs notes before each piece, making this something of a music appreciation class. Her remarks ranged from Dvořák's famous 1892 visit to American to the Obama presidency. I was intrigued by the curiously mid-Atlantic idiom of the energetic movement from Goldmark's Piano Quartet.

The program was anchored by Ms. Downe's calm & even playing. All the musicians sound very different, but they communicate well & play easily together. The quartet played to an appreciative audience of largely older women, for whom this was clearly an enjoyable afternoon's outing. During the intermission my concert companion & I were approached by the NVCM director who seemed baffled that 2 young people had found their way to this event.

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