As the Emerson Quartet moved from presto into prestissimo and ended Schubert's "Death and the Maiden" quartet with a dazzling burst of playing, the audience last night in the Renwick Gallery rewarded them with approving shouts and applause.
It was the close of an all-Schubert evening that included the "Trout" quintet, the "Death and the Maiden" quartet, and six songs, including the two that inspired the quartet and quintet. Lucy Shelton was the singer whose voice and style were lovely in lighter songs, if not suited to the dark hues and deep sounds needed for the brooding dialogue between death and the maiden.
he Emerson players are ideal for Schubert's quintessentially romantic style. Their firm tone has a warmth that gives the slower movements special appeal. Their ensemble is at a point of perfection that makes attacks on slow chords a matter of particular beauty. And when it comes to animated passages, immaculate intonation and sense of structure join forces to provide the music its rightful vitality.
They were joined in the quintet by pianist Lambert Orkis, who also played for Shelton, and by double bass Michael Willens, whose pizzicati had precisely the amount and kind of tone you want to hear. The concert will be separated tonight and tomorrow.