By: Ellen Sherman
There is something so timeless about a classical performance; the string section alone is enough to capture any audience craving a beautiful tune. The performance by the Philharmonia Quartett Berlin on Thursday was nothing short of an exquisite show fit for royalty.
Four men from the Berlin Philharmonic came together to form this illustrious group more than 20 years ago. Concertmaster Daniel Stabrawa and second chair Christian Stadelmann are featured on violin and principal viola player Neithard Resa and principal Cello player Jan Diesselhorst round out the string quartet. With just four instruments, the ensemble filled the beautiful Missouri Theatre with the sounds of 19th century composer Ludwig Van Beethoven. The ensemble began with the delicate movement from String Quartet No.11, Op. 95 called “Allegro con brio common time.” This set the scene for the musical story that would ensue.
After misplacing a sheet of music, one of the violin players stepped off stage, but that hiccup wasn’t a hindrance for these men. The piece “Allegretto ma non troppo” that followed this snag was tragically beautiful. The performers played with the dynamics of the piece, using pianissimo and fortissimo to keep the audience engaged and add to the drama of the story being told.
Twenty minutes of restless intermission passed and the quartet marched back on stage for the second half. This half of the show was set off by an upbeat display of the intricate handwork that Beethoven’s music requires. A call and response theme continued throughout the second half of the performance, as the violoncello did the calling followed by a boisterous combination of the other three string instruments. The final piece “Scherzo: Allegro Molto,” was a thundering movement that left the crowd on their feet. And after 3 separate bows the praising spectators invited the ensemble back on stage. They chose to make their encore performance an alluring adagio.
The Philharmonia Quartett was by far the most accessible classical music ensemble I’ve seen to date. Making Beethoven seem effortless is quite the feat, and for the youthful folk in the audience like myself, keeping our attention with classical music can be nearly impossible. However, this quartet managed to do that and more. The delicacy and charm that the Philharmonia put into each movement was breathtaking. The four men were literally breathing together in order to maintain their perfect synchronization, giving each note (quite literally) a breath of life.
The pieces told a story from start to finish with little to no flash or bang– just four masters of their trade and captivating music. The British Press wasn’t lying when they said these men were “four of the best,” because they absolutely proved themselves in this Thursday night performance.
Ellen is the Live Events director for KCOU and a senior Strategic Communications major from Blue Springs, MO (we can just call that Kansas City – makes things easier.) She likes mexican food, cinnamon rolls, and the occasional Dexter episode. Her dream is to one day plan and promote concerts for a living, although she’s accepted the fact that she’ll probably end up as a hand model.