My new string quartet has been looking for something to perform in a recital on May 15, for our violist’s teacher. We’ve only played together twice, at least twice with me on violin 1. The others know each other better and have been to music camp together and had coaching and everything. I’m holding my own, though. I can finally say that I too have chamber music experience.
I really miss my buddies from the Mystic String Quartet and the Arlington Philharmonic Chamber Players. I owe a big debt of gratitude to Sandy, the cellist in that quartet: not only did she first recruit me to play chamber music when I was pretty new to the orchestra, and then keep the group going through the interchanging of a handful of other violinists and violists, she also showed up at my door one evening with a big laundry basket full of sheet music.
At the time I was sort of like, yeah, whatever, I’ll take it off your hands if you have duplicates and don’t want it anymore. I put it on the bookcase with the rest of my music and mostly forgot about it. But when I moved to CA, I brought it along, and recently, tired of IMSLP and the associated downloading and printing, I finally looked carefully at what I already had: two volumes of Mozart, some Beethoven, Mendelssohn, and Schubert.
The original owner of this music lived and played before my time; his name was Leonard Kaplan and he lived in Cambridge MA. I never met him. By the time his music reached me, he had passed on. Some of his music parts are in better shape than others, but I think the music should be played before it completely disintegrates and becomes unusable. Like the solo violin music I inherited from Phyllis Spence, the former concertmaster and oldest member of my former orchestra, it’s a treasure trove of quartet parts, many of which haven’t seen the light of day for a long time.
My new quartet tried a few things this morning: Ashokan Farewell (nice, but too mournful, too much of a violin I solo), Mozart K499 (also nice, but long), Beethoven Op. 18 No. 4 (in our dreams), some Celtic arrangements (pretty and easy), and finally, Mozart K155, which is what we settled on.
I already know this piece and have played it before. It’s a little bittersweet: the Mystic Quartet played it for Phyllis near the end of her life 3 years ago, and then again at her memorial service, at her request. It is, however, a happy and vigorous piece of music, and has a new life, and new meaning, out here in California.