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Concerts for audiences both large and small

Columbia Pro Cantare, Parisian quartet to perform

October 26, 2007|By Sarah Hoover | Sarah Hoover,special to the sun

Howard County concertgoers have the opportunity tomorrow to enjoy music on either a grand or intimate scale, according to mood or whim. Extroverts might elect to attend Columbia Pro Cantare's 8 p.m. performance of Mendelssohn's Elijah at Jim Rouse Theatre, while those looking for something more intimate might prefer the 7:30 p.m. Candlelight Concert offering of the Amedeo Modigliani Quartet at Smith Theatre.

The forces required for Mendelssohn's Elijah, a mid-19th century oratorio based on the life of the Old Testament prophet Elijah, include up to 10 soloists, eight-part chorus, organ and, when available, full symphony orchestra. The crowd onstage suits the dramatic scale of this story, as well as the impassioned Romantic style of Mendelssohn's final masterpiece premiered in London in 1846.

Mendelssohn's choice of musical style for Elijah - which deliberately harked back to the beloved oratorios of Handel and Bach through its use of dramatic choruses - delighted the English public. To today's listeners, its Victorian devotional fervor can seem a bit cloying, were it not for the characteristic freshness of Mendelssohn's melodies and the dramatic punch the oratorio still packs.

Tomorrow's performance features Columbia Pro Cantare's chorus under the baton of Frances Motyca Dawson (celebrating her 30th year with the chorus), assisted by guest soloists April-Joy Gutierrez, Mary Ann McCormick, Todd Greer and baritone Lester Lynch in the title role. All bring considerable dramatic experience to the oratorio stage, a requirement for soloists and chorus alike in this work.

Smith Theatre will be barren by contrast as the members of Amedeo Modigliani Quartet take the stage. But these four players from Paris (Philipe Bernard and Loic Rio, violins, Laurent Marfaing, viola, and Francois Kieffer, cello) have made a big impression on critics and audiences alike as the 2006 winners of the Young Concert Artists International Auditions.

Their program includes Haydn's Rider quartet in G minor, Op. 74 No. 3, Schumann's Quartet in A minor, Op. 41 No. 1, and Beethoven's Razumovsky quartet in C Major, Op. 59 No. 3.

Energized by a triumphant trip to London, Haydn returned to Vienna in 1793 to write the first of two sets of Apponyi quartets in his new style influenced by the English taste. Less concerned with musical subtlety and more interested in broad, popular appeal, this quartet takes its nickname, Rider, from the first movement's incessant galloping rhythm.

Schumann's Op. 41 of 1842 contains his only string quartets. These were dedicated to Mendelssohn; one can hear Schumann's homage to Mendelssohn in the quartet's tunefulness and brilliant scherzo writing, as well as to Bach in its contrapuntal writing.

The final work, Beethoven's Op. 59 No.3, comes from his middle period and was dedicated to Count Andreas Razumovsky, who commissioned the quartet. These three contrasting works will give the vibrant players of Amedeo Modigliani Quartet a chance to display their ensemble and individual skills.

Advance tickets for Columbia Pro Cantare's Elijah at Jim Rouse Theatre at Wilde Lake High School are $28 or $20 for senior citizens and students; tickets at the door are $2 more. They are available by calling 301 854 0107 or visiting www.procantare.org. Tickets for Candlelight Concerts' Amedeo Modigliani Quartet at Howard Community College's Smith Theatre are $29, $26 for those ages 60 and older, and $12 for full-time students to age 24. Information: 443-367-3123 or e-mail www.candlelightconcerts.org.

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