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Warren Gerds/Critic at Large: Refined virtual afternoon offered by Sheboygan musicians

Critic At Large

Sheboygan Symphony Quartet

Screenshot of Sheboygan Symphony Quartet.

SHEBOYGAN, Wis. (WFRV) – An orchestra that’s been around more than 100 years isn’t about to give up the ghost easily because of COVID-19.

The Sheboygan Symphony Orchestra’s live, in-person season is adrift, like that of so many orchestras around the world. But the organization offered a live performance Saturday afternoon featuring musicians from the orchestra performing as the Sheboygan Symphony Quartet.

The musicians are Paul Sekulski, violin; Krista Hettinger, violin; Molly Lieberman, viola; and Lindsay Patterson, cello.

The location was a hallway (?) in the Weill Center for the Performing Arts, home of the orchestra.

The approach was formal – the musicians in concert wear (black clothing and black masks) and the focus on performing aside from the introduction of the selections.

The key works were two really interesting string quartets, one by Antonin Dvorak and the other by Alexander Borodin.

Viola player Molly Lieberman in her introduction noted the Dvorak quartet’s connection to Spillville, Iowa. It is there where Dvorak wrote and first performed the quartet, which captures the aura of his idyllic summer of 1893 in Spillville and the region. Also, Dvorak is reputed to have finished his great “From the New World” symphony while there.

The Sheboygan Symphony Quartet captured the vigor and warmth of the work.

The other key quartet has the ingredients of two lovely songs hidden it its formal title. Borodin’s second movement, “Scherzo,” was borrowed to become the popular “Baubles, Bangles and Bright Shiny Beans.” His third movement, “Notturno,” is the super-romantic “And This Is My Beloved.”

The program opened with warm, sunny work in keeping with the inviting key quartets.

It’s a given that the sound on a computer is a step or two down, but the commitment to quality playing by the musicians came through.

The finale was in keeping with the mood of the time – reverent and solemn.

The Sheboygan Symphony has some determined souls, and they provided a quality hour and 19 minutes respite.

***

The program

+ “Concertant over Czech Folk Songs” – Jerry Owen

      II. Serenade on “I Shall Buy A Black Horse”

+ “String Quartet No. 12, Op. 97, ‘American’” – Antonín Dvořák

  1. Allegro ma non troppo
  2. Lento
  3. Molto vivace
  4. Vivace ma non troppo

+ “String Quartet No. 2” – Aleksandr Borodin

  1. Allegro Moderato
  2. Scherzo
  3. Notturno
  4. Finale

+ “Contre, Qui, Rose” – Morten Lauridsen, arranged by Nathaniel Rosen

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