The sold out 330-seat
IHC Basile Theater witnessed an enthralling concert to close out Ensemble Music's
71st season--featuring a return of the Ying Quartet, this time with guest
cellist Zuill Bailey. And,
as with the appearance of the Kuss Quartet a couple of seasons ago, a Schubert
masterpiece dominated this program, his Quintet in C for Strings, D. 956, with Bailey
adding a second cello to the quartet complement.
Though I fondly recall the Kuss players' rendering of
Schubert's last string quartet, No. 15
in G, D. 887 -- an unheralded masterpiece because the work
had never been performed live at any concert I've attended, the C major Quintet
gets lots of performances.
This was among the best I've witnessed. Both the quartet and the quintet stand
among the pinnacles of chamber music, outranking all but Beethoven's late
quartets, in this correspondent's opinion.
Bailey, an ISO guest four times over the last decade, had
already proven himself a top-tier solo cellist in league with veteran Yo Yo Ma. His playing within
Schubert's four movements proved himself a first ranking ensemble player as
well. From the
first movement's bewitching second theme to the ethereally sublime E major slow
movement with its dark interior section, Bailey delivered a beautifully
burnished tone which both stood out and blended with his partners. The contrasting, march-like third movement--with another dark interior section--was nicely phrased by
all our players.
In fact, this was as good an overall performance effort by
the Yings as I've heard over their several past visits under these auspices. This despite the
fact that second violinist Jessica Lee, who played that position last November
with the Johannes Quartet, had replaced Janet Ying because of the latter's
recent shoulder surgery. Otherwise the ensemble featured first
violinist Ayano Ninomiya, violist Philip Ying and cellist David Ying. Their top notch ensemble
work dominated the Schubert as well as the earlier presented Schumann String
Quartet No. 2 in F,
Op. 41 No. 2, though the latter does not represent the composer at his best.
Bailey opened the program with one of Bach's solo cello
suites, No. 3 in C,
BWV 1009, but after the first movement stated that he would switch to the Cello
Suite No. 1 in G, BWV
1007, following a visit to and playing No. 1 at a children's hospital earlier
that day. He
proceeded to play all of No. 1 again--tossing, as it were, No. 3 aside. As all six of Bach's
creations are equally valued as the standard for solo cello, the change
mattered little. May 6; Indiana History Center