Festival Vancouver
Alcon Schubert Plus Series
Lafayette String Quartet

Dates: 6 August 2003 at 11.00
: First Baptist Church

Reviewer: Elizabeth Paterson




Lafayette String Quartette: Ann Elliott-Goldschmid, violin; Sharon Stanis, violin; Joanna Hood, viola; Pamela Highbaugh Aloni, cello.

Schubert Song Circle: Raphael Wagner, soprano; Kevin Sean Pook, baritone; Rena Sharon, piano.

T he second program in t he Alcon Schubert Plus Series gave us the breathtaking Lafayette String Quartet playing Schubert's String Quartet in D minor - "Death and the Maiden".  One of his last quartets it is informed by illness and death. The Lafayette caught the huge emotional underpinnings of this piece, now fearful, now calm, now febrile, always intense.It seems that, though the thread and pattern of each voice was clearly heard, the members of this quartet think and feel as one.

These qualities served them well in their opening piece, Transitions, by contemporary musician and musicologist Ian McDougall. The program notes suggest that the transition is a personal one to a new career as composer. It may well be so but there are plenty of less metaphorical transitions in this piece, simple ones, between high and low via glissandi, arpeggios, scales and more complex






ones from key to key and from mood to mood. The technical control and precision which served the quartet so well in expressing Schubert's emotion, sent the notes from player to player, now building, now hesitating, exploring the heart of the music.

This piece opened inadvertently as a duo for violin and dump truck. Because the program was being recorded for broadcast, at the end of the programme the CBC asked the quartet to replay the opening minute. For sheer beauty of sound, Ian McDougall rivals even Schubert.

The Schubert Song Circle, today comprising Raphael Wagner, soprano and Kevin Sean Pook, baritone, with Rena Sharon at the piano, chose lieder to match the Lafayette's program, naturally including "Death and the Maiden". It was well sung, with a light dramatic touch. The other pieces also followed themes of death. Raphael Wagner's interpretation of The Young Nun" was particularly moving, and Litanei was delicately performed.

This programme will be broadcast by the CBC on Take Five , on In Performance and on Les Lieux qui chantent (check the CBC/Radio Canada listings for dates and times).

2003, Elizabeth Paterson