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Windermere String Quartet brings big polish to period performance chamber music

By John Terauds on April 28, 2012

The Windermere String Quartet and guests present their final season concert at St. Olave's Church on Sunday afternoon.

Trickle-down economics works far better as a way of illustrating how orchestras work — and Toronto makes for a fine case study.

The presence of four all-professional orchestras draws a lot of great musicians to the city. They, in turn, encourage others, through networking and teaching, which creates a cycle of growth and renewal that feeds the growth of other orchestras and ensembles, and makes for a flourishing chamber-music as well as symphonic culture.

Tafelmusik, Toronto’s period-performance flagship, has attracted so many fine masters of Baroque- and Classical-era performance practice that they have been able to give birth to the Aradia Ensemble and a number of chamber-music series, including the Eybler (founded by members of Tafelmusik) and Windermere string quartets.

The busy members of the Eybler don’t have time for a concert season. The Windermere, on the other hand, offers a series of Sunday-afternoon concerts at St. Olave’s Church, at Bloor St and Windermere Ave. in neat-and-tidy Bloor West Village.

Their final concert of the season is tomorrow at 3 p.m.

Guest players, violinist Emily Eng and cellist Rebecca Morton, join Windermere regulars, violinist Elizabeth Loewen Andrews, violist Anthony Rapoport and cellist Laura Jones, in a programme featuring Beethoven’s Trio in D Major, Op. 9 No. 2, the C-Major Quintet, D956, by Franz Schubert, and a String Quartet by the mysterious and exciting “Mozart Noir,” Joseph Boulogne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges (1745-1799).

All the music is performed on period instruments, which have a mellower sound.

It only costs $20 ($14, if you’re a senior or student) to get in.

The concert marks the launch of a new CD, The Golden Age of String Quartets, which features the ensemble in their regular formation, with violinist Rona Goldensher joining Andrews, Rapoport and Jones.

The generous album features three core pieces from the Classical canon: Mozart’s “Dissonance” Quartet, K 465, Joseph Haydn’s “Joke” Quartet, Hob. III:38, and Beethoven’s Op. 18 No. 4 Quartet in C minor.

These are sparkling, straightforward interpretations that nicely show off the more delicate, rhythmically lively sound one can get from period instruments. The disc would make a fine addition to any chamber music-loving listener’s library.

For more on the Windermeres, the concert and their new album, click here.

In case you need a better idea of what Boulogne’s music sounds like, here is his Op. 7 No. 2 Violin Concerto, in B-flat Major (I don’t know who the performers are):

John Terauds

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