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Notes from the 2013 Schubertiade ( 4 ) • Belcea Quartet & Till Fellner

A Trio & Quintet to Love

The Belcea Quartet had another shot at shaping impressions (not that they hadn't been most warmly received during their concert the night before) on the next day’s afternoon (Thursday, August 29th). The programming was varied and interesting, and it got under way with a very lovely Schubert String Trio Movement D471, where the first violinist was taking a little timeout. That was nice, because it allowed one to hear nominal second violinist Axel Schacher, who looks a bit like a demure Edward Snowden who dare not ask for a glass of milk during rehearsals. Whether it was the absence of Corina Belcea or the nature of the Schubert piece, there was lightness and a natural flair in their playing that was delightful in the best sense. (Not that any of those qualities would have been out of place in either Haydn or Mozart the night before.) A hint of timidity in tone from Schacher was not so much distraction as it added a welcome touch of sweetness and naïveté.

>Notes from the 2013 Schubertiade ( 1 ) • An Introduction
>Notes from the 2013 Schubertiade ( 2 ) • Prégardien Père et Fils
>Notes from the 2013 Schubertiade ( 3 ) • Belcea Quartet & Thomas Quasthoff
>Notes from the 2013 Schubertiade ( 5 ) • Diana Damrau & Xavier de Maistre
>Notes from the 2013 Schubertiade ( 6 ) • Lemony Bostridge, Lascivious Röschmann
>Notes from the 2013 Schubertiade ( 7 ) • Hagen Quartett I

The foursome complete once more, Mozart's String Quartet in B-flat K589 was up, and again it turned out a bit on the forced side, though not as much as the night before. The strident Allegro led to a tender Larghetto, a sunny if uneventful Menuetto, and a concluding Allegro assai that had less zing for worse and less force for better.

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A.Dvořák, String Quintet op.81,
Jerusalem Quartet / S.Vladar
Harmonia Mundi

Antonín Dvořák's Piano Quintet op.81 was the concluding highlight. From the opening moving little duo of cellist Lederlin with pianist Till Fellner (just subbing at the Salzburg Festival a few weeks ago), which got quickly interrupted by the other instruments buzzing in like a particularly annoyed hornet, they made much of the extremes and contrasts all awhile Fellner seemed to serve as a moderating influence. The result was a levelheaded but exciting quintet that was going to be hard to top with any encore… and certainly wasn’t topped with the chamber-sized Andante from Mozart's Piano Concerto K414. However charming that sounded, it was a case well made for how superfluous encores—which have long ago ceased to be special occasions much less indicative of the quality of the preceding performance but have simply become predictable routine—really are, except in the rarest cases*.

You can hear this concert recorded and broadcast by Austrian Radio here, presumably until the 15th:

* Hearing lots and lots of concerts in short succession, admittedly, contributes a good deal to encore-fatigue… a sentiment not necessarily shared with all (but a good deal, judging from anecdotal evidence) concert goers.

Picture © & courtesy Schubertiade GmbH. Detail; Click to see entire picture.