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Jerusalem String Quartet Shines in Asheville Amadeus Festival

By Ted McIrvine March 17, 2017

Classical Voice of North Carolina

How appropriate that the same string instrument that enunciated the initial heroic theme should begin this movement with the enunciation of the difficulties inherent in a real life. I cannot remember a better performance of this third movement. The ensemble moved without pause (“attaca”) from the third movement to the fourth, which is marked “Thème Russe: Allegro.” It seemed most appropriate, given that three-quarters of the quartet was born in the former Soviet Union, that the resolution should have a Russian…

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Amazing Performance by Berlin Philharmonic Wind Quintet in Asheville

By Ted McIrvine February 12, 2017

Classical Voice of North Carolina

“Spectral breadth yet unity.” If I were to sum up this concert and this ensemble in four words, these would be the words. Hearing the Berlin Philharmonic Wind Quintet in live concert for the first time on Sunday caused me to recalibrate my idea of the sound of a wind quintet. This brilliant group performed in the Diana Wortham Theatre as a part of the ongoing Asheville Chamber Music Series.

The ethereal flute, the nasal oboe, the bright clarinet, the jocular bassoon and the rich underpinning of the French horn – in most wind quintet ensembles, these five instruments toss themes back and forth in a pleasing coordination, but you always sense the tonal differences, you know that there are five players there. The Berlin Quintet makes you believe you are hearing one giant coordinated instrument capable of modifying its timbre across this broad range of tonal color, but directed by…

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The American String Quartet’s Stellar Performance of Three Classics Plays to a Sell-Out House

By Laura McDowell March 4, 2016

Classical Voice of North Carolina

The Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Asheville was packed to the gills for one of the finest concerts of this 63rd season of the Asheville Chamber Music Series. The American String Quartet, which began in 1976 when its original members were students at The Julliard School, demonstrated their complete mastery of three iconic quartets by composers who forged this exciting idiom of chamber music. We heard Haydn’s String Quartet in F minor, Op. 20, No. 5, Mozart’s String Quartet in D minor, K. 421, and Beethoven’s String Quartet in F, Op. 59, No. 1. Each represented not only a unique work within each composer’s catalog, but forged new ground for others to…

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Gary Hoffman and Cecile Licad – A Dynamic Duo

December 4, 2015 by Jason DeCristofaro of the Classical Voice of North Carolina

The concert opened with Beethoven’s Cello Sonata No. 3, Op. 69. This work proved to be an excellent showcase for both musicians. Hoffman captured the expansive six measure cello solo with all the bravura one would expect of a soloist. When joined by Licad’s soft and delicate countermelody, something became immediately apparent – both artists, while consummate solo performers, were also two keen listeners who had developed an almost telepathic musical connection. Both Hoffman and Licad exhibited synchronized precision throughout all three movements and captured the stormy…

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Ariel String Quartet Plays a Spectacular Program of Haydn, Bartók, and Beethoven

By Laura McDowell September 25, 2015

Classical Voice of North Carolina

The Ariel Quartet is known for their performance of this challenging work and they took to it like greeting an old friend. Central to the quartet, both in form and in spiritual depth, is the famous third movement, which Beethoven titled “Heiliger Dankgesang eines Genesenen” (A convalescent’s sacred song of thanksgiving to God). The hymn appears first in chorale style as a Molto Adagio and is followed by an Andante labeled “Neue Kraft fühlend” (Feeling new strength). The alternation of these two sections several times within the movement comprise nearly 20 minutes of some of the most profound music one will ever hear. The chorale section was stunningly portrayed by a…

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Chamber Music Lives in Trio Cavatina

April 10, 2015 by Jason DeCristofaro of the Classical Voice of North Carolina

The music of the Romantic era often possesses a narrative element, telling a story through sound. For the last concert this season of the Asheville Chamber Music SeriesTrio Cavatina displayed their mastery as musical storytellers, infusing works by Schumann and Schubert with dramatic energy. There was something especially fresh and exciting about the trio, something this reviewer initially was unable to classify. As the concert progressed, however, it became clear that the trio members were committed to their role as musical dramatists, emphasizing the many moods of each piece they were performing. Violinist Harumi Rhodes, cellist Priscilla Lee, and pianist Ieva Jokubaviciute held the audience in their grasp for the entire show. Everyone listening sat at the edge of his or her seat, waiting for…

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An Evening of Superlatives: Asheville’s Amadeus Festival Opens with the Incomparable Brentano Quartet

3-17-2015 by Laura McDowell of the Classical Voice of North Carolina

Asheville, a city teeming with its unique brand of energy and creativity, seems a fitting place to launch a new music festival. The Asheville Amadeus Festival, which pays homage to Mozart’s genius with both high-brow and whimsical events, culminates in a final concert by the Asheville Symphony with renowned pianist Emanuel Ax. For this opening concert, theAsheville Chamber Music Series partnered with festival organizers to present the Brentano Quartet with assisting violist Hsin-Yun Huang. A sold-out house packed the Diana Wortham Theatre, easily breaking an attendance record for any single event sponsored by the Asheville Chamber Music Series in its 62-year history.

What better way to pay tribute to the master than with two works for strings he…

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Two ACMS “Alums” Exciting News!

Two of the Chamber Music “alums” from the 2013 season have been featured in the news this month.

Jason Vieaux, the classical guitarist, who performed with the Escher Quartet as the opening concert of the 2013-14 season has won the Grammy Award for the best instrumental solo album for his album PLAY. In addition to performing to critical acclaim in our series, Jason presented a Master Class at the Asheville Music School for four young classical guitar students.

The Escher Quartet also made headlines this month.

The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center selected the Escher Quartet out of eleven resident organizations to receive its Martin Segal Award which provides for career advancement.

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Opal String Quartet: Small Ensemble, Big Sound

2-1-2015 by Rachel Anthony of the Classical Voice of North Carolina

As the players began Corelli’s Trio Sonata, Op. 1, No. 1, in F Major, the ensemble exuded a beautiful blend of harmonies; no one part overshadowed the other. This piece featured four rather short and lively, varied movements. The ensemble breathed together, swaying into each phrase like dancers about to leap into a new pose. I fell into a dream-like state, lost in the melodies before me…

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The St. Lawrence String Quartet Sheds New Light on Two Great Standards

11-16-2014 by Laura McDowell of the Classical Voice of North Carolina

The third concert of the Asheville Chamber Music Series at the city’s Unitarian Universalist Church was unlike any chamber music program I’ve heard. Clearly on an educational mission, the St. Lawrence String Quartet programmed only two works, Haydn’s String Quartet in C, Op. 76, No. 3 (“Emperor”) and Beethoven’s String Quartet in C-sharp minor, Op. 131. Instead of playing more music to fill up the concert’s first half, a full half hour was devoted to a “Haydn Discovery Hour,” a lecture/demonstration before the performance of the musical elements Haydn manipulated in this justly famous work. First violinist and spokesman extraordinaire Geoff Nuttall led the audience through an animated exercise in…

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