Friday, February 05, 2010

Afiara String Quartet at UCSF

Chancellor's Concert Series
4-Feb-10 noon
Cole Hall, 513 Parnassus Avenue

Afiara String Quartet

Briseno: El Sinaloense
Puccini: Crisantemi
Beethoven: Grosse Fugue, Op. 133

As is the practice for these free Thursday lunchtime concerts on the UCSF campus, David Watts, M.D. began with a short poetry reading, this time the love poem "Song" by Allen Ginsberg. Then the young members of the Afiara String Quartet played a tight half hour of music, & we were all out of there by 12:45.

The concert began with Briseno's El Sinaloense, a punchy mariachi number, complete with a rolled R shout by the cellist. This was followed by Puccini's totally contrasting Chrysanthemums, with its gentle heaving. We finished with Beethoven's strange & prickly Grosse Fuge. The Afiara quartet plays very cleanly & with a youthful ease. They have perfect ensemble, & yet I always had the sense of hearing 4 individual voices. I found myself listening a lot to the cellist, whose playing has a bright personality. The cellist is also the spokesman for the group, & he talked briefly between pieces.

This short appearance totally encourages me to check out the quartet's pleasing program of Mozart, Berg & Mendelssohn at SF State on Sunday afternoon as part of the Morrison Artists Series. Apparently they already have fans. As I was reading the program posted outside the hall, an old man came up to me, told me all about the quartet's residency at SF State with the Alexander String Quartet, & assured me that I would like the show.

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