Glazunov given warm advocacy by revamped Delray Quartet

By David Fleshler

The Russian composer Alexander Glazunov is remembered today primarily for his Violin Concerto, his ballets and his mentorship of the young Shostakovich.

But this late romantic composer, whose long life lasted from the rule of Czar Alexander II through the terror of Josef Stalin, turned out a vast quantity of work, and on Saturday in Fort Lauderdale the Delray String Quartet gave a luxuriously rich performance of his String Quartet No. 5.

Warm, romantic and dramatic, the first movement opens with a melody reminiscent of the first movement of the violin concerto, and proceeds in a contrapuntal style to a couple of big climaxes in the upper registers, brought off by the quartet with a lush, gorgeous tone. The last movement was fast paced and almost orchestral in style, as Glazunov used the four instruments to create different textures. Although Glazunov has sometimes been dismissed as an “academic” composer, this quartet breathed with warmth and excitement and made an interesting change from the standard quartet repertoire.

The concert, at All Saints Episcopal Church in Fort Lauderdale, opened with Gershwin’s Lullaby, a wisp of a melody performed with all instruments muted. Although the quartet played well with a hushed but resonant tone. Yet this wasn’t that interesting a work, going on too long for its scant resources and lulling the audience into a stupor that needed to be broken by Joseph Haydn.

The quartet gave a spirited account of Haydn’s String Quartet in D major, Op. 76, No. 5, among the last quartets he ever wrote. A few intonation problems appeared—and reappeared in the Glazunov—but on the whole this was a highly creditable account, with particularly well-handled solos in the second movement Largo by violist Richard Fleischman and cellist Claudio Jaffe.

Megan McClendon

This set of concerts marks the debut of Megan McClendon who is filling the second violinist role for the rest of the season, replacing Laszlo Pap. She blended into the quartet with no apparent difficulty and played well in the few moments in the Haydn and Glazunov that allowed the second violin to be heard on its own.

As an encore, the group performed a Chinese melody called A Single Bamboo can Easily Bend.

The Delray String Quartet repeats the program today at 4 p.m. at the Colony Hotel in Delray Beach and Saturday and 4 p.m. Feb. 13 at Palm Beach Atlantic University’s Helen K. Persson Recital Hall. Call 561-213-4138 or go to

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Sun Feb 7, 2010
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