The Mandelring Quartet had to wait a long time for this performance, Corona complained. But now it can finally welcome the Belgian cellist Camille Thomas, who completes the ensemble, in its “Mandelring plus” series in the chamber music hall of the Philharmonie. Its soft, full tone enriches the quintet by Alexander Glazunov, who delighted the evening parties of the rich St. Petersburg wood merchant and music enthusiast Mitrofan Belyayev with this entertaining work.
There are still discoveries to be made in the repertoire of the string quartet genre
To the slimmer, more focused sound of the Mandelring cellist Bernhard Schmidt, Thomas’s playing creates an attractive tension – the cello was Glazunov’s favorite instrument and is here richly provided with soulful solos. However, Andreas Willwohl is allowed to open with a melancholic viola – Glasunow thus pays homage to the instrument of his patron – until the violins of Sebastian and Nanette Schmidt fan out the impasto sounds in a filigree manner. French elegance lies over this work, which only finds its way to a more “Slavic” sharpened rhythm in the finale, an irrepressible desire to invent new garlands whose charm lies in the superfluous.
But there are still discoveries to be made in the core repertoire of the venerable string quartet genre. Joseph Haydn’s Opus 76.2 in D minor, also known as the “Fifth Quartet”, captivates as an adventure through the remotest harmonies and interweaving of voices, which is made possible by the simple thematic material of two descending fifths. The clarity of diction generates intellectual pleasure as well as emotional involvement. The minuet is striking in the rugged canon of the light and dark voices in octaves, the finale is inspired above all by the intensity and mobility of the primarius, who adds a “forgotten” harmonic to the theme with a wink.
Schubert’s great Quintet in C major, on the other hand, still breath-taking, reveals new sides in the reading of the Mandelrings: their intensity, which favors lean, fluid tempos, leads to an unusually high-contrast sharpness that sometimes exceeds the “beautiful sound”. The theme of the first movement is fanned out heatedly, to which the singing in thirds of the two cellos answers all the more comfortingly. Thus the scherzo becomes devastatingly harsh, the finale, after the thoroughly sensual paradise sounds of the Andante, becomes a race against death. The addition of a “Melody” by the Ukrainian composer Myroslav Skoryk has nothing essential to add to this, despite all the well-intentioned emphasis.
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