The Immaculata Church in Mt. Adams opened its 2018-2019 Chamber Music Series with string players Christina Nam, Holly Nelson, Kanako Shimasaki, Yu-Ting Huang, Hojoon Choi, and Jonathan Lee assembled into what we hope will be a permanent ensemble playing a concert of music by Haydn and Schubert.

Haydn’s Quartet in G Major, Op. 77 is one of the last two of sixty-eight the composer wrote. He dedicated both the quartets from this opus to his patron and former employer, Prince Lobkowitz in 1799. Haydn would live for still ten more years but his composing and performing days were waning down, though mot his inspired writing. The quartet is vintage Haydn, a stately, mature work that opens with an elegant martial rhythm that spans the first movement. The members of the quartet quickly established their like-minded approach to this music at the onset, moving on to deeply soulful playing in the Adagio that follows it. The third movement, a lively Scherzo in ¾ time, was executed with panache, and followed by an even livelier final Allegro that brought the work to a happy ending.

Franz Schubert‘s one and only String Quintet was his final chamber work, composed in 1828 and completed just weeks before his untimely death. Known as the “Cello Quintet” because of the addition of a second cello to its instrumentation, the C Major quintet is filled with a pervading sadness, as if the composer had a foreboding of the end being near. This is a substantial and lengthy work that takes its time, taking the listener on an episodic journey infused with profound pathos. Melodically rich, harmonically daring, rhythmically restrained, Schubert’s final chamber opus (D.956) is decidedly a Romantic masterpiece, and the members of the quintet played it with technical assurance and intense emotional commitment.

In a city rich in musical offerings it is difficult for an ensemble of young players to establish an identity and make a mark. All the more remarkable then it is that this musically ad-hoc group that cries out for a name should begin its young journey so auspiciously. We look forward to more from Christina Nam, Holly Nelson, Kanako Shimasaki, Judy Huang, Hojoon Choi, and Jonathan Lee, individually and as a group

Will Immaculata bring them back, please?

Rafael de Acha