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East Meets West, Uncomfortably

See my review of the latest concert at the Freer Gallery of Art:

East Uncomfortably Meets West (The Washingtonian, October 14):

available at Amazon
L. Janáček, String Quartets, Prazak Quartet
The free concert series at the Freer Gallery of Art intends to encourage the rapprochement of European and Asian musical cultures, but it often ends up demonstrating how uneasy such a union is. The latest concert there, on Thursday night, featured a selection of European and Japanese music combining the Lark Quartet with koto player Yumi Kurosawa. Music from both cultures were best represented by their own traditions, while a couple new pieces that attempted to cross the divide did so somewhat uncomfortably and with little success.

The Lark Quartet was last heard in Washington in 2005, at the National Academy of Sciences. Since then, it has welcomed a new second violinist and a new cellist, part of a turnover trend in the ensemble over the years. The one thing that has remained the same is that the group has been, pointedly, an all-female ensemble since its founding, something that was still unusual in the 1980s when groups like the Colorado Quartet were challenging a male-dominated classical world. In recent years, the foursome has been concentrating on genre-crossing collaborations, a focus perhaps leading them to style themselves, apparently in earnest, as the “LARK Quarte+” on their Web site. [Continue reading]
Anne Midgette, Yumi Kurosawa and the Lark Quartet at the Freer and Sackler Galleries (Washington Post, October 15)

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