Parker Quartet meets the challenge of Jeremy Gill’s music in Strathmore performance


Parker Quartet. (Jamie Jung)
April 1

Monday evening’s concert by the Parker Quartet in the intimacy of the Strathmore Mansion’s music room was the second in a two-day celebration of the music of Jeremy Gill. A pianist and conductor as well as a composer, Gill doesn’t seem to be lacking for commissions (he’s just completed an oboe concerto for the Dallas Symphony and is working on a clarinet concerto for the Harrisburg Symphony). It was his hour-long “Capriccio,” commissioned by the Parker in 2012, that they served up as this program’s main course (the appetizer being the Haydn F Minor Quartet Opus 20 No. 5).

It’s a piece in 27 short movements. In a brief talk, Gill described them as “an unfolding of musical possibilities.” A movement in which the strings wandered around in high silvery harmonics followed one in which the three high strings plucked a guitarlike accompaniment to the cello’s tenor song. In another, a broadly bowed legato morphed into the pins and needles of a sharply detached spiccato. A movement titled “Open Strings,” which gave off a whiff of orchestral tuning, seemed as at home in here as the movements where the quartet slithered around in microtones. Scattered among the movements, the four interludes with their echoes of the Renaissance and the baroque paid homage to the music’s forebears.

The total effect of these distilled slices of musical stuff was intriguing. The Parker ensemble seemed to revel in its challenges, and the hour flew by.

Reinthaler is a freelance writer.

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