Some thrilling musical moments were produced that night at Koerner Hall. The performances of Quartetto Gelato and ETHEL although contrasting in styles, were both very enjoyable overall.
The showcase of Koerner Hall’s acoustics, delivered amazing live sound. The music felt alive and crisp in the air, at times you could hear everyone collectively holding their breath.
The presentation began with Quartetto Gelatto for a short set, and than ETHEL followed right after. After the intermission they followed with a longer set by Quartetto Gelatto, before the grand finale with both quartet’s playing together as one.
As is their nature, Quartetto Gelato imbued their unorthodox pieces with stories and conversational humour (not typical classical performer behaviour). Their humour, theatrics, style and presentation made for an entertaining performance. The “full on” intensity and emotion of Gelato lead violinist Peter De Sotto and his Operatic voice easily fill every corner of Koerner Hall.
Special mention must go out to Alexander Sevastian and his incredible accordian skills, but maybe that’s expected when he’s won 4 major accordian competitions. The speed he plays at makes “fast forward” seem too slow, and his background parts in the quartet’s songs were always interesting.
The multi talented Colin Maier performed playing an oboe, clarinet, guitar, among other things. He is a genuine talent, but he might be remembered more for his gymnastics than his playing. (ie: Russian dancing, the forward/backward worm, etc.). To his credit, he provided great colour and harmony to the quartet’s sound.
Cellist Elizabeth McClellan was steadying factor in the quartet, playing the rhythm and bass/lower register parts that were stylistically atypical. She fused many styles together while never forgetting to keep her playing under control. At times, I thought the accordian drowned out her cello part, but it’s pretty difficult to have an accordian play quietly.
Quartetto Gelato was great fun, a good time with the operatic arias, and they are talented musicians that combine to create something truly original.
ETHEL was a complete stylistic change from QG. Within the quartet, their philosophy is for each of them to be composers as well as performers. Last night was a showcase in each individual’s compositions. ETHEL brought the energy with a more classical bearing combined with unique solos, a different sound just for the fact that they all used traditional quartet instruments (2 violins, 1 viola, 1 cello). It was interesting hearing each member’s composition, as you got a sense of the musical contributation they bring to ETHEL.
The festivities ended with the quartet’s joining forces to play as one large group. The audience was enthralled with seeing this rare combination. The night ended with multiple standing ovations,and a memorable night of music. The Royal Conservatory made a good choice in the opening the year at Koerner with these quartets.
Quartetto Gelato: Colin Maier, Elizabeth McClellan, Peter De Sotto, Alexander Sevastian
Quartetto Gelato Official Website: quartettogelato.ca/
ETHEL Official Website: www.ethelcentral.com/index.html
Royal Conservatory: performance.rcmusic.ca/
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