Kuss Quartet @ Libby Gardner Hall 11.19

Posted November 26, 2012 in

 Unfortunately, arriving late to a chamber music performance means that you'll likely miss the entirety of the first piece, even if only missed by mere minutes. I missed out on the Mozart Quartet in D Major, K.575, and sat outside in the hall staring through the crack in the door while listening through the walls. I was tempted to walk in during the break in the movements, even though I am aware that is not appropriate and I would probably receive a few tsk tsk glares on the way to my seat. Before my daring slip in during the pause, I was told a story by a fellow latecomer about the one time she thought it would be OK to do the same, when the performer called her out from stage as she found her seat. I opted to avoid that kind of situation, so while listening in the hallway I sat reminiscing about Tom Hulce's demonic laugh in Milos Forman's 1984 film, Amadeus. 

The Kuss Quartet is innovative in their performances, and do this thing called "Kuss Plus" as they try to reach out to younger audiences by collaborating with local DJs and hip hop artists, performing mixed mashes of a classic string set with modern twists. This is something I would really love to see, and wish they would've taken that route while they stopped in Salt Lake. The history of music as it molds into our modern perspective fascinates me and is a medium I love to see explored. Ce'st la vie, though, and fortunately, the quartet still brought game to the table, performing some lively pieces for the evening. 
The piece by Janáček, Kreutzer Sonata, was pretty dramatic, with a story line based on Leo Tolstoy's novella of the same title, which is about an envious lover who murders his adulterous wife. The novella is based on the sonata written by Beethoven, and the height of the story occurs when the husband sees a musical performance of his wife on piano alongside the violinist she's been shacking up with. While he is filled with musical ecstasy and jealous rage, he decides that this can’t go on any longer and stabs her as her lover runs away. The drama of the story was clear in the expression of the performance, and Janáček clearly used the violin in ways to create sounds that come from natural surroundings, using the popular folk elements of realism. The intensity of the music felt like the tune to a city scene soundtrack, with anxieties high and fear around the corner. During the Vivo Andante, I was reminded of the scene from Hitchock's thriller, Vertigo, during the moment that Madeleine jumps from the bell tower in the Mission San Juan Bautista. Perhaps it was the squeaks, or the climb to higher notes that made me feel a sense of vertigo akin to Scottie's as quiet followed. I imagine that this movement is the expression during the moment that the husband is bathing in emotional turmoil, and the next movement, Piu Mosso, is when the actual act takes place, as the violins pluck pluck; the husband stab stabs the wife as her lover runs off.
Concluding with Schumann's Piano Quintet in E-flat Major, Op. 44, I found my mind wandering through the piano's notes and had somewhat of a hard time following along. Part of the beauty I find in listening to pieces as such are the calming nature of the sounds as my mind can freely roam through whatever thoughts I have. According to the program, this piano quintet was the first of its kind, and set the precedent for future composers to compose their version of a quintet, including those of Brahms and Dvorak. The first movement, Allegro brillante, certainly held my attention as the themes felt bright and glorious. In Modo d'un Marcia; Un poco largamente is when I think I kind of lost focus as the darker themes came through, and the last two movements, Scherzo and Allegro, ma non tropo repeated a lot of the melodies from the first movement.
There are still quite a few concerts coming up this season, so be sure to check out the schedule online at cmsofslc.org!