A novelty, at least for me, on the Emerson String Quartet's program
tonight in Herbst Theater: Joaquin Turina's 1925 "Oration of the
Bullfighter," Op. 34.
Leading into brilliant performances of Beethoven's D Major quartet, Op.
18, and Shostakovich's second quartet in A Major, Op. 68, the Turina
was an interesting discovery, highly recommended.
Originally composed for the Aguilar family of lutenists, later arranged
for violin and piano by Jascha Heifetz, the 20-minute work describes the
scene of an afternoon in Madrid, before the bullfight, as a matador says
a quiet prayer in a chapel before confronting death in the bullring.
From a muted opening to a stylish old dance to passionate finish, the
music is gripping and deeply felt - perfect for the Emerson's precision
and committed performance.
Note: "offbeat" doesn't necessarily mean "good" - at tonight's US Figure
Skating Championships, an awful mishmash of classical music by the Trans
Siberian Orchestra (say what?) was somewhere between cheap and offensive.
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