• Steve Ambler

The Claudel-Canimex String Quartet


PHOTO COURTESY STEVE AMBLER.

The Claudel-Canimex String Quartet will grace the stage November 27 in St. James Church Hall with a selection of compositions, traditional and contemporary.

The second concert of the 34rd season of the Hudson Chamber Music Series will take place November 27 at 4 p.m. in St. James Church Hall, 642 Main Road, Hudson. The Claudel-Canimex String Quartet will perform works by Verdi, Bédard, and Dvorak.

The quartet’s members are Élaine Marcil and Flavie Gagnon (violins), Annie Parent (viola) and Jeanne de Chantal Marcil (cello). The group debuted in 1989 and take their name from sculptor Camille Claudel. They have an extensive repertory from the Romantic and modern periods and have also commissioned numerous works by renowned contemporary female composers including Sophia Gubaidulina and Thea Musgrave. “Canimex” was appended to the group’s name in 2005 when Canimex Group loaned them a complete set of instruments and bows by the famed French violin maker Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume. The perfectly matched sound of these extraordinary instruments, as well as the ensemble’s refined blend through years of playing together, enables the quartet to achieve a rare musical cohesion. They are active on the Canadian and international scenes and have performed at numerous prestigious chamber music festivals. Their discography is extensive and includes the complete string quartets of Mendelssohn and Prokofiev as well as many of Dvorak’s quartets. They have a keen interest in promoting contemporary music, and their programmes (including Sunday’s) often include works by Canadian composers.

Giuseppe Verdi is, of course, best known as an opera composer. His String Quartet in E Minor is his only known chamber work. He composed it while waiting for the premiere of his opera Aida in 1873. It was performed at an informal recital at his hotel two days after the premiere of Aida in Naples. Although Verdi wrote the quartet in his leisure moments, there are no fewer than 27 available recordings listed on arkivmusic.com (versus 99 recordings of Aida). The audience will be able to judge for themselves whether Verdi should have devoted a little more of his time to chamber music.

Denis Bédard, born in Quebec City in 1950, has been the organist and music director of the Holy Rosary Cathedral in Vancouver since 2001. He shares at least two traits with Verdi. Most of his music is for media other than chamber groups (he is best known as a composer of works for organ and choir). His only String Quartet is a happy exception to this rule. Also, like Verdi, he has a strong gift for melody. Many of his organ compositions are available for viewing and listening on YouTube.

Antonin Dvorak, in contrast to the other two composers on the programme, did devote much of his time to composing chamber works. His String Quartet number 12 in F Major (the “American”) is one of the best known and loved of his works and is one of the most popular works in the chamber music repertoire. Dvorak’s gift for melody is in no doubt whatsoever. As the subtitle would suggest, he composed the quartet during his stay in the United States, a fruitful period in which he also composed his famous New World Symphony. The influence of African-American spirituals can be heard in both works.

As usual, patrons will be able to meet and discuss with the artists after the concert. Albums by the artists will be available for purchase. Tickets will be available at the door for $25 (seniors $20, children under 14 free). For more information phone (450) 458-4088 or (450) 458-5107 or log on to the Hudson Chamber Music Series website at http://www.hudsonchambermusic.ca/index.html. The website includes the full schedule of concerts for the season.

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