In a very warm Old First Church on Tuesday night, I heard the Cypress String Quartet perform works by 3 contemporary American composers. Frank La Rocca, Artistic Director of Composers, Inc., introduced the program & informed us of the Kickstarter campaign for an up-coming performance featuring the entire brass section of the San Francisco Opera.
All 3 pieces had a somber mood. Cellist Jennifer Kloetzel introduced String Quartet No. 5 by George Tsontakis & explained that it was dedicated to the deceased George Rochberg & is in 2 movements that may be performed in any order. Both movements are similarly solemn. A ubiquitous trilling motif underlies the piece, & short themes pass between the instruments in a fugue-like manner. Both movements end when the music suddenly dissipates. The Cypress Quartet plays with a nice, mellow sheen, & 1st violin Cecily Ward sounds particularly smooth. The slightly brighter playing of 2nd violin Tom Stone complements hers pleasingly.
Mr. Stone spoke before Lento Assai by Kevin Puts, a single movement piece inspired by the slow movement of Beethoven's Quartet Op. 135. The quartet's members listen to each other really well, & the chordal opening section was perfectly soft and even. The piece gradually builds to an agitated climax then winds back down to the opening chords & fades to silence.
After intermission the quartet premiered Elena Reuhr's String Quartet No. 6. The composer was present & offered remembrances of George Rochberg & Todd Donovan, the Cypress Quartet's executive director & her piece's dedicatee. The quartet is in 4 roughly traditional movements & features long melodic lines for all the players, especially in the urgent 2nd movement. The final movement made me think of an effervescing drink. I enjoyed Ms. Kloetzel's wonderfully plump cello sound & pizzicatos. I was not used to seeing Ethan Filner, Cypress's reliable violist, with such long hair. The concert had a sparse audience of around 50, who were very quiet. I successfully pointed out music lecturer Robert Greenberg to Cedric, but I must need new glasses.
§ Old First Church Concerts
Cypress String Quartet
George Tsontakis: String Quartet No. 5 (In Memoriam: George Rochberg)
Kevin Puts: Lento Assai
Elena Reuhr: String Quartet No. 6 (World Premiere)
Tuesday, October 2, 2012 At 8:00pm