Monday, April 16, 2012

House Concerts

As a small child, the word "chamber" was associated in my mind only with "chamber pots", those now seldom seen containers kept under a bed, or in a small cupboard at bedside.

Then I heard the word used for lawyers' offices. Also, of course, in the expression "chamber music". When I heard quartets or trios on the radio, I found it rather boring, frankly. I enjoyed jazz and swing music, and even some "top twenty" popular dance band music. Next, I began to appreciate symphonic music: orchestral works by Beethoven, Mozart, Handel, and Vivaldi, in particular. But not that dull chamber music!

As time passed, I learned to appreciate folk and Bluegrass--I am after all, the stepfather of Grammy-winning star Laurie Lewis! For many years now, I have appreciated baroque music, and have enjoyed performances of the PBO (Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra), and other Early Music groups. The San Francisco Early Music Society soon joined PBO, and the Berkeley Symphony as groups to which we subscribe, as we also do to Voices of Music. We also love Mahler, so our tastes are quite eclectic now. But chamber music? It wasn't "my thing".

That is, until four musicians we knew from PBO started playing Haydn quartets, in a group they named the New Esterhazy Quartet (with the blessing of the founder of the original Esterhazy Quartet). The NEQ plays chamber music, of course--and we love it. Mostly they play in churches, as do many other musical groups. But the ideal place to hear chamber music is in a smaller space, a room or "chamber".

For several years now, we have hosted "house concerts" for family and friends, and on various occasions we have been guests at other homes. Listening to the NEQ playing in a pleasant home is a sublime experience. We are very grateful for the music, the company, and the friendship of the members of the NEQ.

I should add that, after playing all of Haydn's quartets over the first two seasons, our friends have introduced works of students and admirers of Haydn, etc. We recently heard the NEQ play a fine quartet by Anton Wranitzky, as well as a fascinating quartet by Beethoven, written when he was already very deaf.

So, now i enjoy chamber music--especially when played in a "chamber".

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