The Temple Chamber Players,l-r: violinist Sergiu Schwartz, pianist Esther Park, violist Josiah Coe, and cellist Roee Harrán. (courtesy of The Temple)

Temple Chamber Players deliver compelling performances of Piazzolla, Fauré, and Brahms

CONCERT REVIEW:
Temple Chamber Players
March 17, 2024
The Temple
Atlanta, GA – USA
“Zest: a Tale of Romantic Reflections”
Sergiu Schwartz, violin; Josiah Coe, viola; Roee Harrán, cello; Esther Park, piano.

PIAZZOLLA: Fuga y Misterio
FAURÉ: Quartet No. 1 in C Minor, Op. 15
BRAHMS: Quartet No. 1 in G Minor, Op. 25

Patrick Tabeek | 19 MAR 2024

Sunday afternoon’s concert at The Temple on Peachtree Street in Atlanta, presented as part of The Temple Chamber Players Concert Series, proved inspiring and complete. The ensemble consisted of violinist Sergiu Schwartz, violist Josiah Coe, cellist Roee Harrán, and pianist Esther Park.

The performance began with an iconic work from Astor Piazzolla, Fuga y Misterio, arranged for violin, cello, and piano by Pietro Beltrani. Piazzolla was born in 1921 in the coastal city of Mar Del Plata, Argentina; over the course of his career, he became a revolutionary compositional force, reinventing traditional Argentine tango into something of his own, tango nuevo. In this setting, more contemporary harmonic gestures are folded into a more conventional tango format, creating lush, colorful, and emotive musical experiences.


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Originally from his tango opera, Maria de Buenos Aires, Piazzolla’s Fuga y Misterio is an account of the death and resurrection of the main character, Maria. The piece itself has become one of the principal works of Argentinian music, symbolizing Argentine culture and the tango’s importance within it.

The performance itself was simply breathtaking. Piazzolla’s music is so texturally rich and full of virulent emotion that it is easy to play wrongly. That was not the case here, as it was a masterful display of musical control and technique, which was necessary for the context of the piece. The performance truly made the audience feel the experience of death and rebirth, just as the composer intended.

The next piece on the program was Gabriel Fauré’s Piano Quartet no. 1 in C minor Op. 15. Considered one of Fauré’s masterpieces from his youth, it was award-winning and received well at its premiere in 1880. However successful, the piece saw its genesis through one of the considerably more tumultuous points in the young composer’s life. After spending years courting and trying to win the hand of Marianna Viardot (daughter of famous singer Pauline Viardot), she broke off their engagement. Around this time, Fauré began writing the work amidst relationship woes. Ironically enough, the original version would receive its premiere on Valentine’s Day of 1880.


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Fauré’s influences are shown clearly throughout, especially the influence of Brahms. The piece demands balance, precision, and diligence from the player, which was evident in this performance, particularly in the second movement. A rare piece of virtuosic writing from Fauré, it is necessary to balance the piece. However difficult, the ensemble was not fazed and remained perfectly musical. An aspect of this piece and its playing was the blending of styles: the traditional structure, primarily influenced by Brahms, combined with the emerging harmonic trends in French music. The colors presented throughout the performance highlighted each of these aspects brilliantly.

After a brief intermission and formal introduction of the ensemble, the musicians prepared for the final performance of the afternoon: Johannes Brahms’ Piano Quartet no. 1 in G Minor Op. 25. The enormous chamber work, written by a then 28-year-old Brahms, is a representation of musical time before Bartók and more regularity of eastern European influence, particularly that of the Romani people. Capping off three previous movements, all of which are your standard Brahmsian textures, well-crafted and effortless sounding, the “Rondo all a Zingarese” is the crowning moment of the piece. The quartet gave a thrilling, fiery performance. The audience gave it a deserved standing ovation. The quartet then played an encore of the last iteration of the principal material to close out the performance.


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About the author:
Patrick Tabeek is a freelance violist and violinist, private instructor of violin, viola and piano, and composer primarily based in the Atlanta metro area.

Read more by Patrick Tabeek.
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