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Ensemble chamber series closes with Ying Quartet

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The Ying Quartet
  • The Ying Quartet

The sold out 330-seat IHC Basile Theater witnessed an enthralling concert to close out Ensemble Music's 71st season--featuring a return of the Ying Quartet, this time with guest cellist Zuill Bailey.  And, as with the appearance of the Kuss Quartet a couple of seasons ago, a Schubert masterpiece dominated this program, his Quintet in C for Strings, D. 956, with Bailey adding a second cello to the quartet complement. 

Though I fondly recall the Kuss players' rendering of Schubert's last string quartet, No. 15 in G, D. 887 -- an unheralded masterpiece because the work had never been performed live at any concert I've attended, the C major Quintet gets lots of performances.  This was among the best I've witnessed.  Both the quartet and the quintet stand among the pinnacles of chamber music, outranking all but Beethoven's late quartets, in this correspondent's opinion.

Bailey, an ISO guest four times over the last decade, had already proven himself a top-tier solo cellist in league with veteran Yo Yo Ma.  His playing within Schubert's four movements proved himself a first ranking ensemble player as well.  From the first movement's bewitching second theme to the ethereally sublime E major slow movement with its dark interior section, Bailey delivered a beautifully burnished tone which both stood out and blended with his partners.  The contrasting, march-like third movement--with another dark interior section--was nicely phrased by all our players.

Cellist Zuill Bailey
  • Cellist Zuill Bailey

In fact, this was as good an overall performance effort by the Yings as I've heard over their several past visits under these auspices.  This despite the fact that second violinist Jessica Lee, who played that position last November with the Johannes Quartet, had replaced Janet Ying because of the latter's recent shoulder surgery.  Otherwise the ensemble featured first violinist Ayano Ninomiya, violist Philip Ying and cellist David Ying.  Their top notch ensemble work dominated the Schubert as well as the earlier presented Schumann String Quartet No. 2 in F, Op. 41 No. 2, though the latter does not represent the composer at his best.

Bailey opened the program with one of Bach's solo cello suites, No. 3 in C, BWV 1009, but after the first movement stated that he would switch to the Cello Suite No. 1 in G, BWV 1007, following a visit to and playing No. 1 at a children's hospital earlier that day.  He proceeded to play all of No. 1 again--tossing, as it were, No. 3 aside.  As all six of Bach's creations are equally valued as the standard for solo cello, the change mattered little.  May 6; Indiana History Center

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