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Review: Biava Quartet's brilliance closes Bridges Festival

| Monday, June 1, 2009

The brilliance of the Biava Quartet was bright indeed at Saturday evening's concert featuring the world premiere of Albert Glinsky's "Allegheny Quartet." The concert was the final performance of the Bridges Festival at the New Hazlett Theater on the North Side, and of the Pittsburgh Chamber Music Society's 2008-09 season.

The concert opened with Alberto Ginastera's String Quartet No. 1, which was irresistible in the high-energy performance by the Biava musicians. Their individual virtuosity and tight-as-a-drum ensemble served the music completely.

Glinsky preceded the premiere of his music with a genuinely helpful video showing historical elements in his quartet, and including recordings by folk singers of some of the 11 tunes he used to represent different epochs and ethnicities. His piece was commissioned by the society as part of Pittsburgh 250.

"Allegheny Quartet" is an immediately appealing work in four movements. The effective setting of Native American, French and English folk tunes with more angular music in the first movement established Glinsky's style. Only a minimalist passage in the last movement, about present day Pittsburgh, disappointed.

An exciting performance of Edvard Grieg's Quartet closed the concert with brio. Yet the Biava's style was more modern than Grieg's own romantic style. In the finale a passage marked to be very soft and tranquil was too heavy and agitated. There was also a cut in the finale.

-- Mark Kanny

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