Review by Judith Caldwell
As a Leap Day concert, 5 at the First presented Schubert’s piano quintet ‘The Trout’ with the AYR trio plus Mayumi Seiler, violin, and Joel Quarrington double bass. The afternoon began with Rachel Mercer, the R of the AYR Trio, and Quarrington playing a duet for cello and double bass in D major by Gioacchino Rossini. This duet was composed for Europe’s larger than life double bass virtuoso, Domenico Dragonetti, a contemporary of Beethoven, who demonstrated that the double bass was an instrument worthy of its own music rather than simply copying the cello part. He expanded the range and usage of the double bass
His flamboyant personality made it very popular. He used to travel with life-sized dolls who were dressed and placed in the front row of his concerts while his dog, Carlos, slept under his chair.
The Rossini piece in three movements is a wonderful bit of fun and Mercer and Quarrington certainly enjoyed themselves and provided so much entertainment that the capacity audience simply could not help but applaud between movements. Seiler and Angela Park (the A in the AYR Trio), then offered Felix Mendelssohn’s Sonata in F minor for piano and violin, which he composed at 16 years of age. This also is in three movements and again is a very happy piece with lovely back and forth between the instruments and a thoughtful, soaring Poco Adagio before a fast and joyous Allegro Agitato which comes to a sudden end.
After intermission came the Piano Quintet in A major, ‘The Trout’ by Franz Schubert. Yehonatan Berick, the Y in the trio, joined the other four musicians on viola. The Quintet was composed for art patron Sylvester Paumgartner, who stipulated that it be written for violin, viola, cello, double bass and piano.
The Quintet is in five movements and begins with an Allegro vivace which has a grand opening and introduces each instrument brilliantly. This is followed by a lovely soulful Andante, and then the very familiar Scherzo with its theme and variations on the song ‘The Trout’ composed earlier by Schubert, which is so joyful the players couldn’t help smiling. The variations are continued in the lovely, dance-like andantino before the Allegro giusto wraps the whole thing up in a marvelous finish. None of the instruments play ‘accompaniment’ in this piece, they are each there on their own terms and the parts are gloriously integrated. The lightness of the piano part beautifully balances the weight of the double bass and the texture of the other strings. This was an enjoyable concert that sent the audience out with a spring in their step.
Next concert: Sunday March 29th at 3.30pm “Cello Extravaganza V”