Reviews

Appell und Seelenschau--Madison String Quartet

Arnold Schoenberg Center--Wien

31 January, 2019

     The Madison String Quartet (Evelyn Estava, violin, Rebecca Harris-Lee, violin, Michael Avagliano, viola and Gerall Hieser, violoncello), which celebrated its 20th anniversary in January 2019, delivered together with the Austrian-American baritone Steven Scheschareg, the Israeli pianist Itay Goren, and the American conductor Charles Prince, an exciting and deeply moving concert entitled Appell und Seelenschau.

     It started with Dover Beach, opus 3 by Samuel Barber, written in 1931. The work of the 21-year-old American composer is based on a poem by the Victorian poet Matthew Arnold (1822 -1888). The pessimistic attitude of the poem transforms the beauty of images of nature into a symbol of the return of human misery. The calm, almost meditative beginning of this piece heads for a high point, only to fall back into a wave-like rhythm at the end. The Madison String Quartet, together with Steven Scheschareg’s beautiful, dark baritone voice succeeded in creating a touching realization of Samuel Barber's work.

     The work The Survivor by the Venezuelan composer Icli Zitella (*1966) is even closer to the subject of music and politics. Inspired by Arnold Schönberg's A Survivor from Warsaw (1948), Zitella wrote a chronicle of the rise and maintenance of power of the totalitarian regime in Venezuela. The work, full of quotes from the Venezuelan national anthem, the military song "Patria, patria querida" and also political songs and Venezuelan folk music, is a musical portrait of the devastating effects of the revolution.

     Itay Goren (piano), Evelyn Estava (violin) and Gerall Hieser (violoncello) touched the audience with Arnold Schönberg's Fugue in E minor

("Kristallnachtfuge"), in a wonderful arrangement for piano trio by Rainer Bischof, with an attempt by the composer to respond to the “Reichspogromnacht”.

     The Madison String Quartet created a special “goose bump” feeling with the piece “La vida es sueño" Op. 76 (Life is a dream) by the American composer Miguel del Águila, born in Montevideo, Uruguay. As an introduction, Steven Scheschareg recited the underlying poem, Calderón de la Barca's "Life is a dream". The musicians recited the words of Calderón to the music, from Spanish Phrygian to a lively Jota dance. It was a special acoustic experience when

Evelyn Estava started playing behind the audience at the beginning of the piece.

After the break the main piece of the evening followed: Arnold Schönberg's “Ode to Napoleon Buonaparte opus 41”. Steven Scheschareg recited the text of Lord Byron's poem to the Schönberg music performed by Madison String Quartet with Itay Goren, directed by Charles Prince. The baritone effortlessly succeeded in his intensive recitation of the chants precisely defined by Schönberg. Overall, it was an exemplary performance of Schönberg's work.

The lecture on Arnold Schönberg's  “Ode to Napoleon Buonaparte opus 41” by Eike Feß brought the audience closer to the background and genesis of this work and made it possible for the subsequent performance of the entire piece to have an even more profound experience.

Even though the concert may have caused consternation and even deep pain in some, the well-deserved, frenetic applause of the audience in the

well-attended Arnold-Schönberg-Center testified not only to the cleverly chosen works, but also to the great musical talent of each individual artist.

Greetings from the New World

Kloster Ilsenburg

Neue Wernigeröder Zeitung, 23 January 2019

A weekend shaped by the Crola foundation! On 20 January, six American musicians gave a highly acclaimed concert organized and sponsored by Clemens v. Claparède Crola from Virginia, highlighting, once again, the Crola Foundation of Ilsenburg. In addition, six descendants of Elise and Georg-Heinrich Crola, who had come from Switzerland to this concert, sat in the audience. They also took the opportunity to give some drawings by the artist to the Foundation. These will be placed on the exhibition floor of the castle which will hopefully be restored in 2020.

The Madison String Quartet, the pianist Itay Goren and the baritone Steven Scheschareg brought a "concert with many unknowns" with them. There were Lieder by Beethoven for the whole ensemble and Lieder by the German-Jewish Erich Wolfgang Korngold interpreted by the baritone in a characterful voice accompanied by the piano.

The string quartet presented young contemporaries. One being Astor Piazzolla's "Oblivion" the only one permanently at home in the German concert halls. The heretofore unknown works by David Rimelis and Aldemaro Romero were followed with great attention and enthusiastically applauded as were the works of Miguel del Aguila as the first encore.

There was a great moment in the chapter house during the performance of the Piano Quintet op. 44 by Robert Schumann. It was great art, presented beautifully, with so much devotion and romantic spirit, power and tenderness (several times the cello of Gerall Hieser seemed to sing!).

The cheers and applause would not end, despite interruption by the delivery of a Harzer Präsents and the small speech of Ursula Siegrist. They rose up again and again. Just beautiful!

Many thanks to the sponsor of this concert, to the wonderful musicians and to Silke Stüver from Café im Schloß, who spoiled the guests with breakfast.

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