Theater
3:52 pm
Mon May 18, 2009

Concert Review: Guarneri String Quartet Final Concert in Philadelphia

Lesley Valdes, WRTI's critic-at-large, reviews the renowned Guarneri String Quartet's final concert in Philadelphia as they tour for the last time before retiring in the fall of 2009. The esteemed chamber group performed with the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society at the Kimmel Center's Perelman Theater on May 15th.

Concert Review: Guarneri String Quartet Final Concert in Philadelphia

Critic at Large, WRTI-FM

Guarneri String Quartet

at the Kimmel Center with the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society

May 15th, 2009

Arnold Steinhardt, violin

John Dalley, violin

Michael Tree, viola

Peter Wiley, cello

After 45 years together, even the Guarneri String Quartet knew it was time to let go. But during the Adagio of Beethoven's tender Opus 127 (in E-Flat Major), those of us crowding the Perelman Theater didn't want to say goodbye. After intermission on a recent Friday night when founding cellist David Soyer sat down next to cellist Peter Wiley, for the Schubert Quintet in C Major we knew we were in for one of those Blue Moon Moments. Soyer, who is 86, has a waver to his hands when he turns the music's pages but not a trace to his bowing. The cello sound is still huge, the intonation perfect. The Guarneri, which has regaled us 35 times in 24 years, could not have chosen a finer piece for its swan song. Those melodies of the C Major Quintet: you hear it in the score: Schubert himself didn't want to let go. The bitter sweetness of the Guarneri's expressiveness said it all. Memories, gratitude, spirit were circling composer, players and us. The Guarneri String Quartet was the final event of the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, which now goes off to its other role at Marlboro, Vermont.