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Shanghai Quartet is lyrical, poetic by Edward Reichel
From Desert Morning News
Beethoven's music has always been at the core of the Shanghai
String Quartet's repertoire ? as it is for any quartet of any repute.
But especially recently, Beethoven's quartets have played a
significant role for the Shanghai. The group has given several
performances of the complete quartet cycle in the United States and
Europe. In China, birthplace to three of the quartet's members ?
violinists Weigang Li and Yi-Wen Jiang and violist Honggang Li;
cellist Nicholas Tzavaras is a native New Yorker ? the ensemble's
performances of the complete cycle included the local premiere of
several of the late quartets.
The Shanghai made a return visit to SaltLake City Tuesday,
playing ? not unexpectedly ? an all-Beethoven program that featured a
quartet from each of the composer's three stylistic periods.
The members of the Shanghai are exceptional musicians. They are
technically astute and musically compelling. They play with radiant
expressiveness and lyricism that brings depth and a finely honed
perceptiveness to the music. At Tuesday's concert, they showed why
they are one of today's finest and most sought-after quartets.
They opened their program with the F major Quartet, op. 18, No.
1. The work has classical proportions and a late 18th-century melodic
and harmonic language. But it already presages the idiomatic writing
of the more mature composer in its expressive content and wider
The foursome captured the work's idiosyncracies stunningly.
Particularly notable was the reading of the slow movement, which
plumbs the depths of pathos. Their interpretation was wonderfully
lucid and thoughtful.
After the F major, the Shanghai gave a dynamic reading of the
so-called "Serioso" Quartet in F minor, op. 95, capturing the work's
dark lyricism, poignancy and somber character with an earnestness that
was expressive and forceful.
Closing out the concert was an illuminating reading of the C
sharp minor Quartet, op. 131. From the eloquent opening fugue to the
fiery finale, the Shanghai's performance was poetic and enlightened.
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