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"An ensemble with such virtuosity and style" by Daniel Ginsberg
From The Washington Post
There used to be a strange disconnect between the Freer Gallery --
one of the nation's
superb Asian art museums -- and its excellent chamber music series,
decidedly in the more Western, Germanic tradition. In recent years,
the organizers have
smartly brought the performances more in line with the gallery's
presenting ensembles and programs that tie East and West together.
concert of the Shanghai Quartet at the gallery on Wednesday evening
showed the benefits
of this thoughtful approach.
The Shanghai Quartet gave an evocative performance of Yi-Wen
Jiang's "ChinaSong," a set
of Chinese folk song arrangements. The composer, with a clear knack
for color and part-
writing, treats ancient Chinese songs with light-handed deftness,
focusing more on
bringing out the mystery and melancholy of the melodies than imposing
a rigid structure.
In the ensemble's hands, each selection came off as a tender
effusion. There were some
beautiful solo flights as well as singing trills that conjured up
bountiful images of nature.
The Shanghai's performance of Bela Bartok's Quartet No. 1, Op. 7,
was as brooding and
mysterious as the Jiang was sweet and lighthearted. This vigorous and
constantly shifted mood and direction, brimming with strong attacks
and bold ensemble.
The Shanghai distilled the Asian-inspired sounds from Ravel's Quartet
in F. This ability to
highlight these underlying "exotic" influences was nothing
artificial, but seemed more like
a natural part of an ensemble of such virtuosity and style.
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