MEMETERIA by Thomas May

Music & the Arts

Chamber Music at Bravo! Vail

Verona Quartet with Anne-Marie McDermott, photo (c) Jorge Gustavo Elias

Last night I got my first sample of the chamber side of Bravo! Vail Music Festival with a smart program featuring the Verona Quartet and Artistic Director Anne-Marie McDermott at the keyboard. Puccini’s early “Crisantemi” and the first of Beethoven’s Op. 18 string quartets revealed a flair for finely calibrated ensemble balance and color, with a cross-connection of moods traced between Beethoven’s Adagio and the elegiac Puccini miniature.

For me the highlight was an impassioned performance of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s Piano Quintet in G minor, Op. 1 — also a youthful work, in fact written when he was only 18 — for which McDermott joined the Veronese to play the taxing, ever-present piano part with power and poise. Together they made a brilliant case for this shamefully long ignored gem, obviously enjoying the fecundity of Coleridge-Taylor’s imagination. Captivating from start to finish, this is the kind of performance that thankfully is reclaiming his work the repertoire.

Filed under: chamber music, Beethoven, Puccini, Bravo! Vail Music Festival, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor

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