JWR Articles: Live Event - Ensemble Made in Canada, Miró Quartet (Featured composer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart) - August 11, 2014
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Ensemble Made in Canada, Miró Quartet

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Reviewed at the 2014 Ottawa International Chamber Music Festival
Two regular fare concerts

Ensemble Made in Canada, Miró Quartet

Mozart at Noon
Ensemble Made in Canada
Three stars

More work lies ahead

For their noontime program, Ensemble Made in Canada offered a pair of works, both in E-flat major. Mozart’s Divertimento for violin, viola and cello, led off in a performance that wasn’t quite ready for prime time. The main problem stemmed from the collective inability to let the music breathe, allowing the phrases to speak for themselves and truly finish before moving to the next line, plateau or variation as the case may be. With a breath as well as technical plan, the result will exude a far more settled aura and ensure that all of excitement created is entirely composer driven.

The most successful of the six movements was the “Minuet” which immediately found the ideal tempo and whose pair of trios nicely contrasted the core idea. A slight variation in weight or touch to the repeated notes could add still further interest and a more compelling sense of direction.

With the addition of pianist Angela Park to the string trio, Mozart’s glorious second Piano Quartet was much more successfully anchored. The exposition of the opening ‘Allegro’ gave the promise of greater things to come but the development had to settle for “too many notes,” lacking the sense of drama and possibility of return that lurks in every bar.

Similarly, the “Larghetto” began beautifully, yet the critical component of an overall arc never materialized. Still, the trading of melodic snippets between Park and violinist Elissa Lee was conversation of the highest order.

The closing “Allegretto” was by far the most satisfying movement of all. It was performed with such skill and care by the ensemble that now is the time to take a further look at the power of contrast (notably legato and a truly dry staccato) to lift the music to the seldom-found realm of exceptional art, leaving “good” for others to attain as a starting point. JWR

Miró Quartet + Jon Kimura Parker
Three and one-half stars

One rehearsal shy

On paper, a program of Haydn, Glass and Brahms seemed to be a compelling combination for chamber music devotees. In practice, all three works might well have been marked “molto bravura ma quasi tentavisio.” For all three compositions, the devil most certainly was in the details.

Haydn’s delectable Op. 76, No.2 had no real evidence of harmonic direction and lacked razor-sharp precision.

Glass’ String Quartet No. 5 was presented in all of its minimalistic glory, but—like many filmmakers who’ve assembled a great cast and production team--couldn’t find the necessary arc—much less the payoff—22 minutes later. A couple of patrons voted with their feet; several amongst our number took advantage of the mesmerizing effects and blissfully caught 40 winks.

Not even the splendid pianism of Jon Kimura Parker could lift Brahms’ mighty, passionate Piano Quintet beyond the level of a working dress rehearsal. A few vagaries of pitch, close-but-no-cigar ensemble and too-frenzied-by-half triplets got in the way of the many fine moments that lay between them.

The bane of many music festivals is the decided lack of preparation time; unfortunately, this performance provided ample evidence as to why fine art should trump concert economics, but who will have the foresight to sponsor that “ask”? JWR

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Repertoire:
Piano Quintet in F Minor - Johannes Brahms
Divertimento for violin, viola and cello in E-flat Major, K. 563 - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Piano Quartet in G Minor, K. 478 - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
String Quartet in D Minor, Op. 76, No.2 - Franz Joseph Haydn
Further information, future screening/performance/exhibition dates,
purchase information, production sponsors:
Dominion-Chalmers United Church Miró Quartet Ottawa International Chamber Music Festival
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