Strings will sing in Chestnut Hill this week

by Michael Caruso
Posted 11/2/23

Both the Fairmount String Quartet and the Jasper String Quartet will be performing in Chestnut Hill over the coming week.

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Strings will sing in Chestnut Hill this week


Both the Fairmount String Quartet and the Jasper String Quartet, under the auspices of Jasper Chamber Concerts, will be performing in Chestnut Hill over the coming week. The Fairmount Quartet will play “Music of Eastern Europe” on Saturday, Nov. 4, at 7:30 p.m. in the Episcopal Church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields. The Jasper Quartet will be joined by soprano Maria Brea for a varied program on Thursday, Nov. 11, at 7:30 p.m. in the Chestnut Hill Friends Meeting.

The Fairmount Quartet is comprised of violinists Rachel and Leah Kyoung Kim-Tomilson, violist Beth Dzwil and cellist Mimi Morris Kim. Their program consists of Grazyna Bacewicz’s String Quartet No. 4, Alan Hovhannes’ Four Bagatelles, and Antonin Dvorak’s String Quartet No. 10.

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Members of the Jasper Quartet are violinists J Frievogel and Karin Kim, violist Andrew Gonzalez and cellist Rachel Henderson Frievogel.

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Durufle’s ‘Requiem Mass’

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Chestnut Hill, will mark All Souls Day, the “commemoration of the souls of all the faithful departed,” with a Solemn Choral Eucharist on Sunday, Nov. 5, at 5 p.m. The service’s celebrant will be the Rev. Eric Hungerford, rector of St. Paul’s Church. The complete “Requiem Mass” of Maurice Durufle will be performed in the context of the liturgy under the direction of Andrew Kotylo, the parish’s director of music and organist, and will feature the parish’s Adult Choir.

The celebration of All Souls Day, officially Nov. 2, and following All Saints Day, Nov. 1, dates back to the “Patristic Age” of the 2nd century in Rome when the Pope, as Bishop of Rome, celebrated the passing of the martyrs buried in the Catacombs beneath the city. The tradition of praying for the souls of the faithful departed is most specifically marked by the Catholic Church, but it is also followed by the Eastern Orthodox, Byzantine Catholic Orthodox, and Anglican Churches in liturgy and music.

Durufle (1902-1986) composed his setting of portions of the liturgy of the Requiem Mass “to reconcile, as far as possible, Gregorian chant rhythm…with the exigencies of modern meter.” At the same time, he clothed the medieval melodies of plainsong in the sophisticated harmonies of the late romantic chromaticism of the early 20th century.

Concert Wrap-Up

The weekend gave me the chance to hear the first full concert of the new season of Tempesta di Mare, Philadelphia Baroque Orchestra, as well as the first Sunday matinee recital presented by the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society. The former took place in a nearly packed Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill while the latter was heard by a sold-out audience in the American Philosophical Society’s Benjamin Franklin Hall in Old City Philadelphia.

Tempesta’s program was a guaranteed popular success. It featured the Suites in F and G from George Frideric Handel’s “Water Music” plus two “bonbons” by Antonio Vivaldi.

For both Handel Suites, Tempesta fielded one of the largest ensembles I’ve ever encountered from the orchestra, including two trumpets and two horns. Together they produced a finely textured, immaculately tuned, flawlessly balanced and lyrically molded body of baroque tone that filled the Church’s neo-colonial sanctuary.

Unlike Handel’s contemporary, Johann Sebastian Bach, whose counterpoint is truly polyphonic, Handel’s counterpoint is more lyrically voiced. The multitude of inner voices invariably support the principal theme, exhibiting a semi-independent existence underneath the beguiling tune that leads the way.

And what gorgeous tunes Handel composed for every movement of “Water Music.” And how imaginatively he harmonized and orchestrated them as well as invigorated them with tantalizing rhythms and tempos.

The musicians of Tempesta di Mare gave both Suites exemplary interpretations and renditions. They caught the ebullient spirit of the dance movements and delineated them with technical expertise and intense musicality.

Tempesta di Mare will return to Chestnut Hill on Friday, Dec. 1, at 7:30 p.m. in the Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill for “Unmatched.”

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Chamber Music

The Chamber Music Society presented clarinetist Ricardo Morales, violist Roberto Diaz, cellist Efe Baltacigil and pianist Natalie Zhu in a program featuring Ludwig van Beethoven’s Clarinet Trio in B-flat major, Opus 11; Max Bruch’s Eight Pieces, Opus 83; Karel Husa’s “Evocations of Slovakia;” and Johannes Brahms’ Clarinet Trio in A minor, Opus 114. In all four scores, the permutations of three players performed memorably.

Morales, the principal clarinet of the Philadelphia Orchestra, proffered a mellow yet focused tone from both B-flat and A instruments. His phrasing was both lyrical and dramatic.

Diaz, President and CEO of the Curtis Institute of Music and a former principal viola of the Philadelphia Orchestra, offered playing that combined the clarity of a violin and the warmth of a cello. Baltacigil, a former member of the Orchestra’s cello section, projected a tone of surpassing resonance and solid support.

Zhu played beautifully in both the Beethoven and the Bruch, but she truly came into her own in the Brahms, conjuring up a symphony orchestra’s worth of amplitude and variety of colors from a stunning Hamburg Steinway & Sons concert grand piano.

The Chamber Music Society’s next Sunday matinee is set for Nov. 12 featuring flute, violin, cello and piano in music by Weber, Schubert, Mozart and Villa-Lobos. 

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