Friday, January 07, 2005

By Strauss

To the most stunning and luscious chamber music concert last night: the Razumovsky Ensemble at Wigmore Hall. The Razumovskys are a flexible-sized group of London's top orchestra leaders and freelance chamber musicians/soloists, given their much-deserved chance to play at the Wig and elsewhere in groups that show what astonishing players they really are. Last night the ROH leader Vassko Vassilev, LSO principal second David Alberman, LPO principal viola Sasha Zemstov, ROH principal viola Andrey Viytovych and cellists Oleg Kogan (who runs the whole thing to perfection) and Alex Chaushian got together to play an entire programme of string sextets: the one from Capriccio by Strauss, the Brahms G major and the Tchaikovsky Souvenir de Florence. We sat and wallowed all the way through. The sound quality! The vigour! The textures! The fabulous music that is never performed often enough! Glorious musical chocolate, 100% cocoa solids.

A thought about Capriccio: the crux of the opera is whether Countess Madeleine, pursued by a poet on one hand and a musician on the other, decides that music is more important than words, or vice-versa. We never learn what her decision is. BUT Strauss starts the opera with - a self-contained string sextet. He must have realised that it would be taken out and performed in chamber concerts as a work in its own right. Without words. Could this sextet represent Strauss's reaction to his story? The answer is music, music, music...