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Thank you, Saint Cecilia!

Saint Cecilia is the patron saint of music, so now altogether, “Thank you, Saint Cecilia!”  And while we’re at it, “Thank you  –  incredible musicians of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center for sharing seven of your finest with us.”

Unlike the short life and brutal death of Cecilia (martyrs didn’t just get poisoned, you know), our lives were beautifully enriched by the music of Beethoven, Hummel, Schubert and Mendelssohn.

Yes, we were back at Temple Beth-El with a glorious afternoon of music titled “Beethoven Connections.”  Unlike the short life and brutal death of Cecilia (martyrs didn’t just get poisoned, you know), our lives were beautifully enriched by the music of Beethoven, Hummel, Schubert and Mendelssohn.  And the Beethoven Connection?  Without the influence of Beethoven’s imagination and virtuosity, chamber music as we enjoy it today simply wouldn’t exist.

Take Johann Nepomuk Hummel’s Quintet in E Flat:  there are many echoes of Beethoven (whom Hummel greatly admired) throughout this profoundly moving composition.  Performed by Wu Qian, piano, Richard Lin, violin, Matthew Lipman, viola, Nicholas Canellakis, cello and Blake Hinson, double bass, this rarely heard composition had clarity and perfect harmonies.

But the concert began with a work by the master himself, Beethoven.  Performed with simplicity and pure beauty by Arnaud Sussmann, violin, Matthew Lipman, viola, and Nicholas Canellakis, cello, it was quintessential Beethoven.  The Trio in C minor was written fairly early in his career, and one wonders at that stage of his musical mind how he was able to twine the phrasing and motifs into this classically beautiful composition.

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Another Beethoven admirer, Franz Schubert, composed the Rondo in A major.  Here one piano accommodated four hands:  those of Wu Han and Wu Qian.  This lyrical composition was a joy to hear and performed by these two extraordinary musicians, it was a real tour de force.  Just think of the skill it takes not to end up with four hands in a tangle!  But the Ladies Wu, both virtuosi, managed this very complicated composition with grace and effortless ease.

 

Finally (in a program that seemed all too short), the Sextet in D major by Mendelssohn was performed.  I admit to being a Mendelssohn fan, but this performance went above and beyond my expectations.  If you can imagine music that sounds like cream, you’ll have some idea of the richness and wonderful textures of this composition.  Moving from the lyrical and sweet to the voluminous and tumultuous.  The six members of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center (Wu Han, Lin, Sussmann, Lipman, Canellakis and Hinson) made the Temple sing with a glad sound that well merited its standing ovation.

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There is nothing like a Sunday afternoon well spent with beautiful live music, so thanks to Saint Cecilia, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and to our own 78 year old San Antonio Chamber Music Society.  We hope to see you November 14th for the Kenari Saxophone Quartet – don’t miss it!

– E Doyle

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