Salzburg Chamber Soloists:
Talent times Fifteen
The highly acclaimed and greatly anticipated (by Chamber enthusiasts) Salzburg Chamber soloists came to the Performing Arts Center with a fresh and uncompromising program that literally dazzled the cozy but exuberant Cerritos audience with not so often played compositions that sounded sublime in their young hands. The Soloists are an international all-star team of stringed instrument masters who play very much as a team. Actually, they are more of a dream team that seems to be able to make material better with their passionate interpretations and the leadership of violinist/conductor Sandor Vegh. Pardon me for being shallow in the face of such elegant and intelligent music but they are also the best-looking ensemble ever seen on a Cerritos
stage. Nine lovely women and five handsome men comprise the Salzburgs which might distract the purist but when they begin to play you see this is not a pulchritude pageant and they all belong on that stage for musical talent alone.
The evening began with a short gem by the great Mozart, his “Adagio and Fugue in c minor, KV 546” that was greatly influenced by J.S. Bach. The solemn commencement leading to a brisk and moving finish appropriately showed the genius of both composers. The Mozart turned out to be just a nice bon bon appetizer for the denser stuff to follow. Benjamin Britten’s complex and difficult to perform “Les Illuminations for Soprano and Strings, Opus 18” completed the first half but not before the hall was taken on a phantasmagoric voyage through the poems of Arthur Rimbaud. In nine parts the Illuminations voyaged in a dream state as sung by delicate voiced soprano, Karine Polverelli who seemed perfect for the role that demanded caressing the French language descriptions of travels in phantom cities but also passionately describing erotic dreams, presumptuous romantic couples, vast seascapes, physical transformations and a rather macabre parade of images from a host of evils. After all that, the piece finishes with a breathtakingly beautiful “Depart” that punctuates the incredible musical journey with a delightful finish.
In the second half the soloists really lived up to their titles starting with Leos Janacek’s “Suite for Strings” with touches from late Romantic period. Sometimes sweet and lyrical the six pieces offered opportunity for the soloists to shine and they did not drop the ball once. The presto in the middle was exceptional in its gorgeous melody that seemed to sing with the cellos and violins working together as one. The Suite was one of those performances that you hated to see end but it left an afterglow enhanced by the deep and melancholic Adagio and the short but sweet Andante. The final offering on this night, Ravel’s “String Quartet in F Major” seemed to have been written for this young group who flexed their musical muscles especially in the “Assez vif” that featured plucking the instruments followed by the occasional stringed drama, then interludes of the opening theme that sounded better each time it was played. If one were to look for inspiration for much of the classic film music of the 20th century this Ravel composition is a lesson in such musical expression. The encore was an exuberantly joyful “Chant et Fugue” by Astor Piazzola that allowed the young musicians to let their hair down and let their freak flags fly so to speak. The smiles on the faces on stage spread to the grateful audience where it appeared that many of the sometimes staid chamber music fans wanted to dance.