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by Daniel Hautzinger

Wasmuth-SQFor much of its existence, chamber music was performed in private homes for small gatherings of friends. A recital by the Wasmuth Quartet on January 14 in Oberlin Conservatory’s Stull Recital Hall had the feeling of those earlier soirees, an intimate and cozy evening. The concert was part of Oberlin’s month-long String Quartet Intensive and Festival.

Stull is small as performance spaces go, with no raised stage. For the Wasmuth’s concert, standees crowded the back and extra seating surrounded the performers on three sides, putting some audience members nearly within arm’s reach of the musicians. Such a close setting also grants an unusual acoustic: resonance is lost, but every detail cuts through. That exposure could be a nightmare for a performer, but the Wasmuths easily adjusted to the venue.

And good thing they did: the sprightly lines of Haydn’s String Quartet Op. 50 No. 6 (“The Frog”) were lithe in their hands, every note clear and bright. Read the rest of this entry »


by Mike Telin

Jupiter-SQFor Michael Strauss, Oberlin’s associate professor viola and chamber music, “Winter Term is all about trying new things, things that are of interest to students that they may not get to immerse themselves in during a regular semester.”

Strauss is in charge of organizing one of those New Things, Oberlin’s first Winter Term String Quartet Intensive and Festival, which runs from January 7 through January 29. The idea is to give student quartets and other groups a taste of the dynamics of a professional chamber ensemble as well as to allow faculty members to coach groups they wouldn’t ordinarily have time for in their normal studio schedules.

“Three quartets signed up, one of which is trying to make a go of quartet playing and two of which are new, although they did come together during the first semester,” Strauss said. “We also have a couple of chamber groups that are involved in the project, including an established piano trio. I wanted a mix of people who enjoyed playing together with people who wanted to be part of creating something from the beginning.” Read the rest of this entry »

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