More than 160 years after the premiere of Franz Schubert’s Cello Quintet in C major, musicians are still giving it rave reviews.
“It’s one of the cornerstones of chamber music,” said cellist James Holland.
Violinist Ruxandra Simionescu Marquardt thinks it’s one of the best chamber music pieces ever written. “That’s the opinion of a lot of people,” she said.
Added violist Willy Sucre, “It’s known for its nobility of conception, the beauty of its melody. … It’s truly a masterpiece.”
Sucre, Marquardt and Holland will be joined by cellist Joan Zucker and violinist Roberta Arruda in a performance of the Schubert on May 25 at Las Placitas Presbyterian Church in Placitas.
The Schubert is on the final concert of the Placitas Artists Series’ 2013-14 season.
“He could spin tunes. His melodies are just unforgettable in every movement,” Holland said of Schubert. “It’s a long piece so it’s an endurance test as well. But it doesn’t feel long if we play it right.”
Despite the fact that the attention is on the cellists, every player gets a moment to shine.
“The slow movement (Adagio) is basically where time stands still. … And the second cello comes in with pulsing pizzicato notes,” Holland said. “The middle section of the movement is really intense and ultra-dramatic, and then things calm down.”
Musicians love to play it and audiences love to hear it, he said.
Having two cellos in a chamber work is unusual; the Placitas concert happens to have two such works. On the same program is Czech composer David Popper’s Suite for Two Cellos.
“Every cellist knows Popper,” Holland said. “He wrote the definitive book on cello plays – the Popper etudes.”
Popper also wrote a number of show pieces for cello and this suite is meant to be one of those pieces, he said.
Holland said the Popper is very virtuosic.
“The sonorities of the two combined cellos are really rich and pleasing to play,” he said. “It has five short movements. … The last movement is a march, which is fiendishly difficult. Joan (Zucker) and I will be dancing all over the fingerboard.”
The third work on the program is Zoltan Kodaly’s three-movement Serenade for Two Violins and Viola.
Sucre said melody and lyricism were important to Kodaly and so was Hungarian folk music. “It’s very passionate,” he said.
Marquardt said the second movement is more like a ballad with lots of folkloric themes and it has an uplifting last movement with very fast dance themes.