Sunday, September 1, 2019

BISQC, day 7

You want to know who won the competition, do you? It was a TIE, the first ever in BISQC history. (As an old Hugo administrator, I could have told them about those.) Marmen and Viano shared the prize. Callisto was second; don't feel sorry for them, as without the tie it would have been third.

How they're going to split the prize money, the attached residencies, the required tours, etc., I have no idea.

Some people were cynical. They say it couldn't really have been a tie, as there were seven judges. (They voted by points.) They say the Marmen were the real winners, and Viano was only stuck in to get a Canadian group in there. I discount all this.

In the Beethoven round, Marmen played Op. 131. They did a good job of imposing structure on this large and potentially shapeless work, and their rhythm was strong. But though Marmen started out well enough in my ears this week, and I really liked their Mendelssohn, I am getting a little tired of their eccentric and sometimes unattractive tone color.

Viano played the Razumovsky Third, and their splendidly blended tone brought out the melodic charm and beauty of this underappreciated work. I had had very mixed feelings about their Bartok, but I've liked everything else they've done, especially their Ades.

Callisto played the Razumovsky Second with their typical bright shiny precision. They were something of the finalists' black sheep. When I recited the newly-released list to one inquirer, he responded "Callisto?" in a mixture of surprise and disdain. But they were a favorite of mine. I liked everything they did, including their Ligeti, which, almost alone, I rated much higher than Marmen's.

And so the great string quartet adventure of 2019 draws to a close.

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