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Chamber
EXAMPLARY QUARTET PLAYING IN MARIN GARDEN CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, October 22, 2020
Taped video concerts have pretty much dominated the recent fare for classical music fans, but sporadic live music making can still be found in the North Bay with outdoor chamber music. Of course with the obligatory social distancing and often decorative facial masks. Four San Francisco Opera Orc...
Chamber
VIDEO CHAMBER MUSIC FROM LINCOLN CENTER IN GREEN'S BROADCAST
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, October 17, 2020
Along with hosting its resident the Santa Rosa Symphony, Weill Hall has contracted to produce sporadic virtual programs of classical music, and began Oct. 17 with a charming three-part concert from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in New York. Hosted with comely introductions by CMSLC di...
Symphony
THRILLING SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY PERFORMANCE IN AN EMPTY WEILL HALL
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, October 11, 2020
Viewers of the Santa Rosa Symphony’s inaugural socially distanced YouTube concert on Oct. 11 could be forgiven for thinking they had stumbled upon a performance of Verdi’s “Un Ballo in Maschera” (A Masked Ball), given that the string players in the opening shot all wore black masks. The sole excepti...
Symphony
BROWN VIDEO GALA LAUNCHES SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY SEASON
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, September 12, 2020
Similar to many North Coast musical organizations the Santa Rosa Symphony has scheduled a series of virtual concerts on video, spotlighting sections of the orchestra and the exuberant activities of its conductor Francesco Lecce-Chong. However, as an introduction to the season, a Sept. 12 gala vide...
SONGS AND ECHOES OF HOME IN AIZURI QUARTET CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, March 8, 2020
From the first richly layered harmonies of Dvořák’s Cypresses, the Aizuri Quartet held the March 8th audience at Mt. Tamalpais Methodist Church in thrall. The church was more than half full, a good crowd considering present anxiety about the spread of the coronavirus. Taking precautions, the M...
COLORFUL BORN BACH AT AGAVE BAROQUE'S SCHROEDER HALL CONCERT
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Friday, February 28, 2020
Bach’s obituary records that “Johann Sebastian Bach belongs to a family that seems to have received a love and aptitude for music as a gift of Nature to all its members in common.” Agave Baroque presented their Feb. 28 concert, Born Bach, as a partial musical story of several generations in this rem...
ECLECTIC VIOLIN AND PIANO WORKS IN VIRTUOSIC MILL VALLEY RECITAL
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, February 23, 2020
Blending virtuosity with sublime artistry, violinist Alexander Sitkovetsky and pianist Wu Qian gave the Mill Valley Chamber Music Society audience many thrills February 23, performing four muscular and soulful works by four composers from four countries: de Falla, Schumann, Stravinsky, and Grieg. T...
PREMIER OF KAIZEN AND DRAMATIC MOZART HIGHLIGHT ECHO CHAMBER CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, February 16, 2020
As concertgoers took their seats in San Anselmo’s First Presbyterian Church for ECHO Chamber Orchestra’s February 16 program, they were surprised to see at center stage two bass drums, a tom-tom, bongos, high hat and cymbals. It was the occasion of the world premiere of "Kaizen," composed and perf...
BEETHOVEN'S VALENTINE'S DAY GIFT IN RAC SEBASTOPOL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Friday, February 14, 2020
Continuing a season of Redwood Arts Council successes, the Kouzov Duo performed an eclectic Valentine’s Day concert in Sebastopol’s Community Church before an audience of 125. Beethoven’s charming Op. 66 Variations on Mozart’s “Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen” from the opera the Magic Flute was a bouncy ...
LUSH BACH PERFORMANCE IN DENK'S WEILL HALL RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, February 13, 2020
Memorable artistic interpretations of musical masterpieces are often at extremes, and with the Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier (WTC - Book I) that Jeremy Denk played in Weill Hall Feb. 13, the pianist was only sporadically at unique or ebullient musical ends. But his playing wasn’t exactly at opposite...
CHAMBER REVIEW
Mastercard Performance Series / Saturday, November 11, 2017
Tetzlaff Quartet. Christian Tetzlaff and Elizabeth Kufferath, violin; Hanna Weinmeister, viola; Tanja Tetzlaff, cello

Tetzlaff Quartet

TETZLAFF QUARTET'S MASTERY IN MOZART AND SCHUBERT

by Terry McNeill
Saturday, November 11, 2017

German violin virtuoso Christian Tetzlaff presented a critically successful Weill Hall recital Feb. 18, and returned to the same venue Nov. 11 with his admirable Tetzlaff Quartet in a program of Berg, Schubert and Mozart.

Clarity of ensemble has always been a hallmark of this Quartet, and contrapuntal clarity was in the forefront of their performance of Mozart’s E-Flat Major Quartet, K. 428. All of Mr. Tetzlaff’s trademarks were on display here: small ritards in the high register that drop quickly into decrescendo and chaste phrasing again high up that drops to pianissimo and hands the themes to colleagues. His musical partners were exemplary all night: Elizabeth Kufferath, violin; Hanna Weinmeister, viola; and cellist Tanja Tetzlaff.

Placing Ms. Tetzlaff stage left (unlike the Quartet’s photos and YouTube appearances) gave hefty but precise low string weight to the ensemble, and she played elegantly all evening. The romantic mood of the opening allegro was captured, and the Quartet had impeccable control of pianissimo in the quiet repeated four-note phrases. The andante and menuetto were equally well played, and Mr. Tetzlaff’s spiccato bow was nimble and the contrasting moods of the short trio were perfectly shaped.

The boisterous finale found Mr. and Ms. Tetzlaff in delicious duos with ample virtuosity and Mozartian insight. Always impressive was the way each instrument in the blend could grow the music in intensity, reminiscent of Haydn’s Quartets, from every volume level. It was a brilliant and mature interpretation.

Berg’s two-movement Quartet, Op. 3, closed the first half. This is a complex 20-minute contrapuntal work from 1910, atonal and full of leaps in the melodic lines. Ms. Weinmeister opened the piece with a touching lament and the entering strings used portamento effectively. Much of the playing underscored the shrill aspects of Berg’s music, though the Tetzlaff’s dynamic flexibility and ability to play soft and fading phrase endings diluted some of the strident string tone. Knotty rhythms were mastered in the finale, and Ms., Tetzlaff’s big cello statement in the coda seemed effortless, which of course in this music it was not.

Following intermission Schubert’s G Major Quartet (No. 15, D. 887) comprised the entire second half. It’s the composer’s last and longest quartet, and arguably the most difficult to keep together over its 45-minute duration. Stamina on the Tetzlaff, and certainly some in the audience of 350, is required. It was a wonderful performance and the Tetzlaff didn’t evidence a moment of fatigue. Their opening grabbed attention in a way that was almost orchestral in texture. Viola and Ms. Kufferath’s genteel violin line and tremolos paired with Mr. Tetzlaff’s interjecting notes and phrases to form sharp contrasts – elegiac background and often wild sound flights. The Quartet effortlessly and subtlety changed tempos throughout, surely needs in Schubert’s Quartets.

The scherzo was played at a judicious tempo with a lively but never frivolous charm. Here the composer has written many false cadences, and always he seems to have another idea to present. The lilting waltz theme was enticingly rendered with seductive charm, driving to a fast ending led by Mr. Tetzlaff’s magical bow and fingers. The repeats in the concluding allegro vivace each had a slightly different character, another seemingly standard feature of this ensemble’s magisterial control and technical finish.

Programing the protracted Schubert was a savvy choice, as chamber music aficionados were rewarded with a masterful performance that was in the end spiritual and fully encompassed the composer’s genius.