Review: 'Quartet elequently delivered a classical concert'

Ananta Fiddle-Hooper, contributor
The Rimsky Korsokov String Quartet graces POPS Performing Arts and Cultural Center in Dunsmuir. Left to right, Svitlana Smaga, piano; Mikhail Bondarev, violin; Ekaterina Belisova, violin; Alexei Popov, viola; Anton Andreev, cello.

Nothing less than a stellar balance of dynamics, technique and passion forced the crowd to its feet, not once but three times, Tuesday evening, March 10, at the POPS Performing Arts and Cultural Center in Dunsmuir.

The Rimsky-Korsakov String Quartet eloquently delivered a classical concert that included the works of Tchaikovsky, Medtner and Marge Wheeler of Mount Shasta.

The opening moment for the visiting Quartet from Russia was the Moderato e semplice, the first movement of the Quartet No. 1 op. 11 in D major by Tchaikovsky. It riveted the audience with the Quartet’s ability to grab our attention in just a few notes.

As my senses settled into the rapid movements of this opener, I was transcended to a place in time where the purity of acoustic instruments, technique and personal skill was the purpose of a concert’s enjoyment.

Busy twists and turns of the “moderately fast piece” attuned our attention, setting the stage for the evening’s musical journey through music of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Svitlana Smaga, former piano instructor and staff accompanist at the College of the Siskiyous, graced the stage as a guest pianist with the quartet, now quintet, as they delivered Molto Placido from Piano Quintet in C Major by Nikolai Medtner.

This piece was a bold flurry of dancing notes that carried the audience through a memory of old Russia, reminding us of a time when simplicity, skill and presence were the main ingredients of a musical journey.

The quintet’s timing and sensuality brought the audience to its feet in thunderous appreciation of The Rimsky Korsokov String Quartet and guest pianist Smaga.

The authentic mix of the ancient instrumentation, the resonate performance hall and the exquisite skill by The Korsokov Quartet enveloped our senses during the Andante ma nontanto, 3rd movement of Tchaikovsky’s Quartet No. 2, F Major op. 22.

Cellist Anton Andreev and violist Alexei Popov delicately wove an emotional foundation of dynamics that soothed the audience into a swirling journey of longing and sadness created by their fully empassioned timing and perfect counterpoint of their fellow musicians.

Andreev and Popov’s soulful command of the composition provided an unbreakable foundation for the violins to stand upon.

The last movement of Quartet No. 2 brought the musical fireworks of the Finale as timing, emotion, mastery, composition and showmanship came together in a perfect ending, rendering yet another standing ovation.

Much to our surprise, The Rimsky Korsokov Quartet gave us a delightful encore featuring a composition by Marge Wheeler.

The quartet played Wheeler’s piece Slovanic Dance, gently commanding the nuances and style of the music with a cultural command of its essence, as Eastern European artists. The sweet and gentle movement formally ended the evening with an ovation delivered by a packed standing room only audience.

The POPS Performing Arts and Cultural Center offered a sensual balance of intimate surroundings and aural acoustics with its open air gallery decor and the antiquity of its brick walls embracing the rich, full and passionate sounds of two violins, a viola and a cello known as The Rimsky Korsokov String Quartet.

Based in Saint Petersburg, Russia, the Quartet was formed in 1939 and is one of the most prominent Russian chamber music groups in the world.

Music By The Mountain, a local non-profit organization committed to bringing world class musicians to our area, sponsored this delightful evening of eastern European classical music.

• Ananta Fiddle-Hooper, an international violinist, cellist, composer, producer and writer, has recently made Mount Shasta her home as she raises her newly adopted family.