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28.3.12

More Czech Music

available at Amazon
Mendelssohn / Mozart / Schubert, Elias String Quartet
(live, Wigmore Hall)
The Music of Budapest, Prague, and Vienna festival at the Kennedy Center brought plenty of music by Czech composers to our ears last week, performed by the National Symphony Orchestra and other ensembles. If there is no limit to the Czech music you like to hear -- especially when it comes to Leoš Janáček, in my case -- console yourself this evening with the latest free concert at the Library of Congress (March 28, 8 pm). The young Elias Quartet, an ensemble of young British musicians formed at Manchester’s Royal Northern Music Conservatory, joins American pianist Jonathan Biss for an all-Czech program.

The Elias, which has a couple of live recordings at the Wigmore Hall (on that venue's private label) to its name, will perform Josef Suk's Meditation on the Old Czech Chorale 'St. Wenceslas', composed for string orchestra (when played by a string quartet, the contrabass part is omitted), and Janáček's first string quartet, known as the "Kreutzer Sonata" (played here by the Janáček Quartet). Truthfully, I have not yet been all that impressed by the playing of Jonathan Biss, but the high opinion of other listeners and critics encourages me to keep an open ear. He will perform selections from Janáček's piano work In the Mists and join the Elias Quartet for Antonín Dvořák's A major piano quintet, op. 81.

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