The Miró Quartet comes to town
Usually, the “golden age” of anything can be defined as any time before the present. But for chamber music lovers, this is it, right here, right now. Never before have there been so many ensembles who can not only play the spots off of music formerly forbidden to all but the select few, they do so with a hiterto rare combination of ensemble, tonal beauty and musicality. Would you like to hear what I’m talking about? Show up at Amherst College’s Buckley Recital Hall this Sunday afternoon at 3 when the Miró Quartet join pianist Jeremy Denk for a program of Mozart, Schubert and Dvořák.
Nothing in the Miró’s biography necessarily sets them apart from a couple dozen of America’s other top quartets: Formed in 1995 at Oberlin, in residence at the University of Texas, played all the big festivals with lots of famous artists, so on and so forth. And like many of their peers, they’re dealing with personnel change, and will be at Amherst with their new second violinist (yes, a very big deal). But what I admire in their playing can be told in a story. Once upon a time…
In fact it was in 2003, when the Miró was one of four quartets vying for a residency at the Hartt School in Connecticut. (In the end, the gig went to the Miami Quartet, another top-notch group I’d also suggest you check out.) I did a series of interviews with each for a “final four” feature on WFCR’s Morning Edition, asking each specific questions based on their backgrounds and repertoires. Then, I asked all of them same question: In an era of so many terrific quartets that perform so well, how can any one quartet like yours stand out?
Well, three out of the four gave me basically the same perfectly reasonable answer, which I’ll summarize thusly: “If you work hard, stick with it, believe in yourselves, catch a break, etc., eventually you’ll find your place and make your mark”. Fine. No problem.
Then, I asked the Miró the question. The answer came from their cellist , Josh Gindele: “In every era, on every instrument, or in every type of ensemble, there’s one figure or one group that raises the bar and sets a new standard for its generation. For string quartets, there was the Budapest. Then, along came the Juilliard. Then, the Guarneri. Then the Emerson.
“We want to be that quartet for our generation.”
Dear listener and reader, I swear on a stack of Beethoven Quartet CDs that my breath was taken away. As it has been each time I’ve heard the Miró in concert. Don’t miss your chance.