Wednesday, June 29, 2016
The Cypress String Quartet's Farewell Concert
After 20 years as partners, the Cypress String Quartet played their last notes together on Sunday in a concert at the Veterans Building in San Francisco.
Though the Farewell Concert was structured as a celebration, complete with a catered reception after the music-making, the event still felt more than a little melancholy, rather like a party announcing a divorce.
It was not only the four musicians who are scattering, but an entire family of fans such as the couple above who have been following the quartet for two decades…
…and support staff such as Executive Director Maggee VanSpeybroeck above who is moving to Chicago to enroll in an MBA program.
The group specialized in Beethoven quartets, which is how they opened the program, with the composer’s Opus 95, the “Serioso.” (Violinists Cecily Ward and Tom Stone are in the photo above.)
This was followed by four movements extracted from works they had commissioned over the years as part of their “Call and Response” initiative where they asked living composers to respond to another work they had programmed. (Pictured above is cellist Jennifer Kloetzel.) The pieces were Elena Ruehr’s Clay Flute from her 2001 Third String Quartet, Quiet Art from Jennifer Higdon’s 2003 Impressions, Fantaisie from Philippe Hersant’s 2011 Quatuor A Cordes No. 3, and finally Unhurried from Benjamin Lees’ 2005 String Quartet No. 6.
In the Cypress Quartet concerts I have attended over the last couple of years, the most interesting music and performances have usually been these premieres, and it is probably what the ensemble is going to be remembered for in the historical record.
After intermission, the Cypress played Debussy’s 1893 String Quartet in G Minor in a beautiful performance, highlighted by the exquisite musicianship of Ethan Filner on viola above. He also introduced the three encores by Dvorak, Suk and Shulhoff that ended the concert.
At the reception afterwards, there was a video highlighting the quartet’s accomplishments over the last 20 years, and the feeling of being at a funeral wake was unavoidable.
May all four of them do well in the future.