Sunday, June 02, 2013

Duke Ellington School presents string concert at FBC in Washington (Shostakovich Quartet #8)

The First Baptist Church of the City of Washington DC sponsored a concert by the Guitar Ensemble and the String Ensemble form the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington DC (link).  The group will play in Harlem in New York City on Father’s Day.
The Guitar group played the opening movement of Mozart’s Serenade, “Eine Kleine Nachtmusk”, a movement from the Vivaldi Concerto Grosso Op 3 #2, a Mozart. Quartet (I think #11) movement (not named) that sounded like an Allegretto in common time, and a Scherzo by Gitaski.  The group comprised seven players.  The Mozart sounded a little out of place to my ear on guitar.
The String  Orchestra had twelve players, doubling up on several instruments, that included two double basses.  The group played an unspecified movement from an unspecified Mozart Serenade, than a piece from the Holberg Suite by Edvard Grieg, and then the main attraction, the String Quartet #8 in C Minor, Op. 110 by Dmitri Shostakovich. The 20-minute work has 5 short interconnected movements, built around a four-note theme, with sound effects resembling war, and a morose ending.  The music has quotes form some of earlier music by the composer, and has some of the eclectic style of the Fourth Symphony. The composer wrote the piece after diagnosis with a form of polio and when under political pressure from Communism.
The playing was passionate, and much more focused than in the first two pieces, where there were some pitch issues. 

The Church did not use the new Austin organ in the service today, as it is still being tuned, but it was reportedly tested in the previous two services.  Dr. Scrheiber did play the E-flat Fugue from the Well-Tempered Klavier (BWV 876) by J. S. Bach on the Steinway Piano.  

The Church plans organ concerts later in 2013: Lawrence P. Schreiber on Sept. 15, Ken Cowan on Oct. 20, and Christopher Houlihan on Nov. 24, in “Pipes Spectacular XIV”. 

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