Sandra Wilmot is a Kelowna-based freelance musician, composer, educator, and violin instructor. She plays professionally with the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra and is on faculty at the Kelowna Community Music School. photo-contributed

New Oxford String Quartet closes Chamber of Music season

The 36th season concluded April 12

The Chamber Music Kelowna’s 39th season concluded Friday night with a concert featuring The New Oxford String Quartet.

The program opened with piece by the young clarinetist/conductor/composer Uriel Vanchestein titled Les Veuves (The Widows). Based on a poem by Richard Desjardins, the piece tells a tale of disruption and deception in an Indigenous community when a group of loggers raid the land of all the tree

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The highlight of the evening was a riveting performance of the string quartet in A minor Op. 51, No. 2 by Johannes Brahms. Featuring violinist Wan in the first violin chair, this performance clearly demonstrated why the ensemble’s recent recording of the Op. 51 Brahms Quartets won them a Juno Award in 2017. Wan’s playing was of particular note throughout the piece with all four members of the group blending seamlessly with every harmonic and rhythmic turn.

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The second half of the program was dedicated to a rare performance of Beethoven’s monumental String Quartet in C sharp minor, Op. 131. Comprised of seven movements played without a pause between them, this work is unlike any other string quartet written previously in terms of form and structure. While the two outer movements are written in C sharp minor, the middle movements foray into many other keys, representing a rather unusual composition style for the time. With Crow occupying the first violin chair for this work, the ensemble played with an appropriate restraint and interiority for this work. Cellist Manker’s extensive on-stage remarks gave the audience a depth of perspective about this piece that certainly enhanced the overall experience.

The final Allegro movement of the Beethoven garnered an enthusiastic standing ovation from the audience capping off both a wonderful season, and an exceptional season-finale concert for Chamber Music Kelowna.

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