Morrison Artists Series: Afiara String Quartet
February 7, 2010 3:00pm
San Francisco State University
McKenna Theatre, Creative Arts Building
Mozart: Quartet No. 19 in C, K. 465 Dissonance
Berg: Lyric Suite
Mendelssohn: String Quartet No. 2 in A minor, Op. 13
Despite, or maybe because of, Super Bowl 2010, there was such a big turn out for the Afiara String Quartet this afternoon that the house ran out of printed programs. I was attracted by the substantive & balanced program on offer. I was especially glad of the chance to hear Berg's Lyric Suite. I own 2 CDs of this piece, but hearing it live I realized that it creates a lot of timbres that just do not come across well in a recording. The Afiara Quartet may even have an affinity for this work, & they brought a lot of concentration to their performance.
The young members of the quartet play with an easy technical facility & with perfect ensemble, yet they are also 4 distinct musical personalities. Cellist Adrian Fung has a big, sometimes booming, sound which is quite prominent. 1st violinist Valerie Li has a sweet sound on her higher strings which changes to a warm tone lower down. She often sounds like she is about to take flight. I was always aware of hearing individual voices assert themselves.
Members of OLLI were welcomed during the introductory remarks. SFSU sponsors a local chapter. This is a social group for people 50 & up who are interested in cultural programming. As a privilege of membership, they attended a champagne reception during the intermission. Before the Mendelssohn, violist David Samuel thanked the Alexander String Quartet, who had coached them during a residency at SFSU. I had spotted the Alexander's 2 violinists during the intermission.
Audiences for the Morrison Artists Series are eager, & I especially enjoyed the performance of an elderly woman who carefully took her time finding a seat in the front of the hall. We were past the eerie introduction of the Mozart & well into the exposition before she was settled in.