Last year I mentioned that I'd heard a wonderful string quartet playing Mozart in the Montgomery BART. Quite some time afterwards, the cellist and violist contacted me to thank me for writing about them. I learned, however, that they'd been playing Haydn. Alas for my pride, but I certainly loved the music and the chance to experience it in live performance.
Last night I was treated to a full-length performance by the Novello Quartet. They played Haydn and Mozart, and thanks to some helpful remarks from the violist, Anthony Martin, I learned to appreciate the differences in their compositional styles.
The program included the second of Haydn's Opus 54 quartets, as well as his unfinished quartet, Opus 103. After intermission, we heard Mozart's "Dissonance" quartet, K. 465.
The Novello Quartet consists of first violinist Tekla Cunningham, second violinist Cynthia Miller Freivogel, violist AnthonyMartin and cellist Elisabeth Reed. All are accomplished performers with early music groups in the Bay Area and elsewhere. As a group, they communicate extraordinarily well, never missing an entrance or cadence. They play on period instruments, gut strings and all, producing a soothing and mellifluous tone.
One of the nicest aspects of the evening was the venue, Ellen Webb's yoga studio in Oakland. It's an intimate setting accommodating a few dozen people, with lots of wood to soften the sound. The studio is attached to the home of Stephanie Weisman of The Marsh fame, and her husband Richard DiLeo. Stephanie has been organizing chamber performances in the studio for some time, and I can't wait for the next one.
Sep 17, 2006 by event
★★★★★ I heard the Novello Quartet performing works by Haydn and Mozart at Ellen Webb's Yoga studio in Oakland on September 16th, 2006. It was a delightful experience, and I look forward to seeing them again soon!
Back when we were in Dogpatch, we used to eat breakfast and lunch at Just For You on 22nd St. It's a great bakery and cafe where they're really sweet to you, unless you disobey the signs and use your cellphone. Fortunately for me, they were OK with me texting inconspicuously. I checked in, so Tantek got huevos delivered. I bought a dozen of their delicious beignets for the gang.
In America, Labor Day serves as the national observance of the autumnal equinox. Summer's End. I guess it's the closest our culture can get to acknowledging our astronomical and agronomic roots.
In Judaism, our equinox observance is Sukkot, still a few weeks off. For those of us who live in the Inner Farallones, that seems more appropriate. We construct our sukkah so that we can see the stars through the roof. By the first moon of autumn, we've usually shaken off the fog, so this might actually be possible for us.
My father, of blessed memory, understood the change of the seasons better than most. All his life, he yearned to be closer to the Earth. He probably would never have said that, but I know that it's true. His garden, with all of its splendors, lingers in my memory to this day.
He had a little ritual of his own. Scotch in the winter, gin and tonic in the summer. Memorial Day and Labor Day were the moments of transition.
Now me, I've never liked gin. Scotch, on the other hand, has been a favorite for years. I introduced my Dad to single malt when I discovered it. Like fine tea to my Mom. We do make a bit of progress, one generation to the next.
Every year on Labor Day, I raise a glass of malt to my father's memory. This time, I'm enjoying a 15 year old Springbank. I can't remember whether I ever shared this particular Scottish jewel with my father, but I know he would have loved it.