Beethoven comes alive with string quartet performance in Tabernash |

Beethoven comes alive with string quartet performance in Tabernash

Joan Shaw
Classical music review

TABERNASH —The four musicians of the Bergonzi String Quartet left humid Miami to enjoy summer in Grand County and astonish the audience with a revitalized performance of Beethoven Quartet Opus 18, No. 5.

In the genre of classical music, this is often referred to as an “old chestnut” — once you hear the melody and rhythms, you enjoy the familiarity.

But this time, it was with a presentation of new life. The musicians were passionate about their art and quickly entranced the audience with their techniques and the fine interpretation they all seemed to feel together. Every important part was distinctly heard, and it seemed like they were tossing the melody around easily with this approach not often heard in concerts. The audience at the Church of the Eternal Hills in Tabernash went wild with applause.

The quartet was founded 15 years ago by the violist, Pamela McConnell. They presently reside in Miami, where they are on the faculty of Frost School of Music at University of Miami. They tour internationally with an extensive repertoire.

Glenn Basham, the first violinist, played the sonorous passages with beauty and ease and made the tricky, very high passages seem effortless.

Second violinist, Scott Flavin, was the best and happiest second violinist this reviewer has ever seen. He loved playing and his smile and enjoyment were engaging. He made his solos a prominent part of the performance but was truly a fine ensemble player as well.

Violist McConnell not only shared her beautiful deep, resonant viola tones with us but even added a new approach to quartet playing with her occasional stand up antics. Cellist Ross Harbough played as beautifully as Yo Yo Ma and added a richness to this group which resulted in a wonderful sound. Their finest attribute is their careful listening to one another. The audience enjoyed three arrangements of Scott Flavin. His version of a Sibelius nocturne was so nicely presented that one could hear people gasping with delight. Another was Leonard Bernstein’s “Glitter and be Gay” from Candide in which Pamela, the violist, played a Parisian courtesan with glittering jewels and quite a flare.

The final number was the well known “American Quartet” by Dvorak based on many folk themes he learned during his years in Spillvill, Iowa. Again, an updated interpretation was played giving the music new vitality and providing a fresh approach to the “old” masters.

“ I was overwhelmed all evening,” said Diane Fisher, of Winter Park. “There were so many nuances in this live performance that one does not experience from a recording.”

“All four are just as likeable and special as their music,” said Jennifer Shea, of Boulder, saying she had studied with all four musicians in Miami.

Several children in the audience sat in rapt attention. Annika Bresnyan, age 9, told me she liked the Beethoven best because it reminded her of her grandmother Cheryl, who practices Beethoven every day, “even with her foot in a cast.”

This concert was sponsored by the Grand Foundation as one in the series presented by the Grand County Concert Series. The final concert in celebration of their 10th anniversary will feature the favorite duo pianists of local residents, the Bergmanns, on Friday, Aug. 23.

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