Music of the Spheres Society
(Music of the Spheres Society Website)
Virtuoso String Quintets
String Arrangements by Stephanie Chase
Stephanie Chase, Violin
Harumi Rhodes, Violin
Hsin-Yun Huang, Viola
James Wilson, Cello
Kurt Muroki, Double Bass
At Christ & St. Stephen’s Church
120 West 69th Street
New York, NY 10023
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
October 16, 2009
Siete Canciones Populares Españolas, Composed by Manuel de Falla (1876-1946), El Pano Moruno, Seguidilla Murciana, Asturiana, Jota, Nana, Cancion, Polo.
Sonata for Violin and Piano, Opus 108, Composed by Johannes Brahms (1833-1897), Allegro, Adagio, Un poco presto e con sentimento, Presto agitato.
Caprice Basque, Opus 24, Romanza Andaluza Opus 22, No. 1, Zigeunerweisen (“Gypsy Airs”), Opus 20, Composed by Pablo de Sarasate (1844-1908).
A Capricious CHASE (Caprice Opus 1, No. 24), Composed by Nicolò Paganini (1782-1840).
The Music of the Spheres Society, founded by Stephanie Chase in 2001, has as its mission the promotion of classical music, with lectures and chamber concerts, to highlight the philosophical, historical, and scientific foundations of music. The concerts and pre-concert performances are held in the charming Christ & St. Stephen’s Church, on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, a very European ambiance with stucco, stencils, and stained glass. Tonight’s Pre-Concert performance was “An Ancient Stringed Instrument Revealed: The Angular Harp”, featuring Bo Lawergren and Tomoko Sugawara.
De Falla’s seven songs, Siete Canciones…, immediately showed off the church’s excellent acoustics, with vibrant, smooth harmonies and dancing rhythms. Harumi Rhodes and Stephanie Chase created a duo-violin conversation in the second song. The third song was more mellow, fluid, and eloquent, showcasing James Wilson’s mournful cello, while the fourth included percussive tempos and sudden pauses. The fifth song was highlighted by Kurt Muroki’s bass solo, with whispering Sephardic elements. The sixth was bucolic, and the seventh stormy and windy, a grand finale.
The Brahms Sonata brought Ms. Chase to the lead violin position, and her mastery of the genre was instantaneously impressive. Notes were poignantly fused, and the chamber quintet was rehearsed for superb timing and nuanced harmonies. The “Presto agitato” movement was beautifully synchronized, ending in urgent melodic frenzy. De Sarasate’s three presented works began with Ms. Chase again in the lead. She took a staccato theme and added a breezy, joyful interpretation. Sweeping dance refrains were inherent in the Caprice. The Romanza was introduced by Hsin-Yun Huang’s viola, with Ms. Rhodes, then the cello, and then Ms. Chase creating exotic, inspired passages, as the viola again led the finale. The “Gypsy Airs” showcased a deep, dramatic theme, with the bass slow and measured, before the quintet turned fiery, flashing, and defiant. One could just imagine the swords and ruffles.
Tonight’s closing work was an original arrangement, by Ms. Chase, of Paganini’s Caprice Opus 1. Ms. Chase took the letters of her name, matched them to notes on the scale, and added her refrain subtly, then intensely, to Paganini’s theme. Ms. Chase took the lead, with rapid violin fingering, to wove her musical concept in fanciful flourishes. Music of the Spheres Society concerts continue in 2010. Check their schedule here, so you don’t miss these inviting and nurturing chamber events.