by Garrett Harris
‘If you look in history, whenever the times became terrible, people needed this as
much as drink and food to feed the soul. It is an international language but at
the same time, it is beyond communication. It’s not about just moving people, it is
about changing people…‘
Recently Rancho Santa Fe was treated to a powerful and bewitching
performance organized by Mainly Mozart in our community. World renowned
artists, Lynn Harrell and Henschel Quartet, played for an intimate crowd of 50
at The Rancho Santa Fe Garden club covering some of classical music’s most
complex compositions. Their version of Mozart: Adagio and Fugue in C minor
and Schubert: String Quintet in C Major Lynn Harrell: Cello was received with
a thunderous standing ovation leaving us to delve introspectively.
Lynn Harrell’s presence is felt throughout the musical world. A consummate
soloist, chamber musician, recitalist, conductor and teacher, his work
throughout the Americas, Europe and Asia has placed him in the highest
echelon of today’s performing artists.
Henschel Quartett’s musical journey has included many remarkable highlights.
The Henschel Quartett played at the official re-opening of the Anna-Amalia
Library in Weimar (a UNESCO World Heritage site), and travelled to Brussels
as a Cultural Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany. In March
2010 the quartet was privileged to perform at the Vatican in the presence
of Pope Benedict XVI. The quartet has regularly been invited to the Royal
Palace of Madrid to perform on the four Stradivari of the royal collection. In
June 2012 the Henschel Quartett was invited, as the first European quartet
in twenty years, to perform Beethoven’s complete string quartets in the
prestigious Suntory Hall in Tokyo. In the same year Monika Henschel became
the president of the newly-formed Association of German String Quartets,
and in 2013 Christoph Henschel was appointed Honorary Professor at the
University of Augsburg.
“This is my life and connection to God,” Christoph shared with us right after the
performance. “I hope the audience would have the same experience. I cannot
live without this music. I can live without many things but not without this music.”
Highlights of last season and the current one include appearances in London,
Amsterdam, Munich, Yokohama and Tokyo (Geidai University).
The traditional way to go about writing a string quintet is to add a viola to the
traditional string quartet line up of violin, violin, viola, cello. For his Quintet in C
Major, Schubert added a cello instead of a viola.
Big deal? Maybe not in the grand scope of human experience but in the
microcosmic realm of chamber music it is worth exploring.
This quintet is the last piece of instrumental music Schubert composed just
a few months before his death in 1828. It’s first public performance was not
until 1850 and it was not published until 1853. Since then it has acquired the
status of being Schubert’s greatest piece of chamber music.
What about the Trout Quintet? The C Major or Cello Quintet has a
thoroughness about its composition which exceeds Schubert’s previous
efforts including the Trout.
The extra cello, as one might imagine, creates a depth of tone which translates
as a depth of expression. Maybe Schubert was inspired by the possibilities an
extra cello provided. Whatever the case, this is music which compels us to
look inward. It was composed in the late summer and into autumn, a time of
the year many find to be introspective.
It is pointless to dramatize Schubert’s composition within the context of his
impending demise. Schubert did not know the date his death would arrive.
While we would like to think he composed this music as his swansong it adds
nothing to what Schubert put on the page.
What Schubert did put on the page was 50 minutes of uninterrupted beauty.
If there is one thing which can be said of Schubert, it is that he was a master
of melody. Nowhere is he more masterful than in this C Major Quintet. It is
not only a pinnacle of Schubert’s oeuvre, it is a representative of the best
elements of European Romanticism.
The best elements of European Romanticism are truth of emotion, elevation
of folk traditions, resistance to industrialization, and connection to nature. The
truth of Schubert’s emotion in the C Major Quintet is evident for all to hear.