Saturday, August 6, 2022

Music@Menlo, week 3

Returned from Mythcon, I resumed attending events at the Music@Menlo festival, which is three weeks long and was still going on. After a week in the dry baked alien precincts of Albuquerque, and with little music in my life (the rental car, which had one of those "we know better than you do what you want to listen to" preset radio systems, was picky about whether it'd pick up the Santa Fe classical station or not), it was something of a cultural shock to come home and find things as they were.

I'd reviewed two concerts the first week and one the second, but the Menlo publicity people asked if I could do another. The only main concert occurring after I got back that fit my schedule was an austere little program featuring Mozart violin sonatas. Not my usual choice, but I got the Daily Journal to agree to take it, and what do you know, it was quite good.

I wrote this review from memory, with only the online copy of the festival program book for aid, because I'd misplaced my notes and the program book I went with. I found them just after I'd finished, but found it necessary to add only a few words, like "extraverted" (which I thought was spelled "extroverted," and the spellchecker on this program agrees with me, but I guess your editor knows best).

I also got to the big blowout Friday evening Prelude concert by the young professionals, who usually trade off assignments, but this time all 13 of them participated in one concert: three big works that, including intermission, took 2 1/2 hours. Dvorak's Op. 87 piano quartet, much less rattly than it usually comes out, set the evening's celebratory tone with its unaggressive cheerfulness. Shostakovich's String Quartet No. 3 and Brahms's Piano Quintet are darker works, but the players found the light in them. The iron rigidity that features in the Shostakovich is clearly not a native language for the Abeo Quartet, and they struggled a little with that aspect, but their work was emotionally strong. But no stronger than the Brahms which followed, which was just fabulous, especially the coda of the finale, which closed the evening (and, for me, the festival, since I am otherwise occupied during today's final events) with a perfect bang.

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