Iris String Quartet
|Photo Credit: Agnieszka N.|
YIBIN LI, Violin
MUNEYOSHI TAKAHASHI, Violin
ENTELA BARCI, Viola
SEAN KATSUYAMA, Cello
December 16, 2016
220 East 4th Street between Avenues A and B
Metropolitan Playhouse located in the East Village was pleased to present the IRIS STRING QUARTET in a concert of major works by Ravel and Shubert, along with the World Premiere of MICHAEL KOSCH'S Giotto (selections) for violin solo. The program included: Maurice Ravel’s Sonata for Violin and Cello; Franz Schubert’s String Quartet No. 14 in D Minor, D.810 “Death and the Maiden”; and, Kosch's world premiere.
The Iris Quartet has played in most of New York's finest venues like Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully, Steinway, Merkin, and Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center so it was a pleasant surprise to listen to them in a small chamber; especially, for the classical chamber music lover. Apparently, the quartet is named after the Greek goddess of the rainbow. These young musicians come from different countries (Albania, China, and Japan) and some were educated at Juilliard and others at respective renowned schools in their country of origin as well as having trained with the masters in their field.
The Iris Quartet was excited to lead off a fifth season of concerts in this award-winning theater that is an integral part of the East Village theater scene. Metropolitan Playhouse was also delighted to present the Iris String Quartet as part of the MUSIC AT METROPOLITAN series in its intimate downtown home, whose acoustics and size are ideally suited to chamber concerts and solo artists' recitals.
The concert began with a lovely surprise Bach violin solo by Muneyoshi Takahashi.
Maurice Ravel’s (1875-1937) Sonata followed and was a very interesting choice made by Yibin Li. It almost sounded as though it were composed for the 21st century and yet it was composed between 1920-24. It flirted with avant-garde approaches linked to Stravinsky and Schoenberg and its astringent harmonies sounded like what we regard as avant-garde jazz today. This was very different than the Classical Ravel that I’m accustomed to and which defined this Frenchman’s work.
Kosch's (b. 1959) world premiere was next which was inspired by Giotto di Bondone (1267-1337), a Florentine painter and architect who was considered one of the first great artists of the Italian Renaissance. Kosch is known to compose his works inspired by great artists with the idea that art inspires musical composition.
After a short intermission, the quartet finished with another interesting choice—Franz Shubert’s (1797-1828) “Death and the Maiden”. Ms. Li explained that this string quartet was composed while Shubert was dying so it felt like the notes were between life and death, but more like celebrating the last moments of his life. Shubert’s music influenced by the Romantic movement sounded poignant and rapturous.
After the intimate and romantic performance, there was a lovely reception whereby all the audience members could meet the musicians and the composer, Kosch, which led to interesting conversations.