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The Four Seasons Chamber Music Festival, based in Greenville but currently available from anywhere in the world, continues its 21st season with "Mozart's Genius," an exploration of the brilliance of Mozart through the lens of two of the composer's pieces.
The new online interface for concert viewing, or "Virtual Concert Hall," is worth mentioning, due to its simplicity; concertgoers can access all concerts and events in one place, which is helpful since this program's residency not only featured two live performances, but also two more events: an in-depth Q&A session about Mozart's music, and an interview with Four Seasons' collaborating violist Maria Lambros.
Lambros was joined onstage for the first half of the program by Four Seasons' artistic director and violinist Ara Gregorian, violinist Hye-Jin Kim, and cellist Michael Kannen.
The Adagio opening of Mozart's String Quartet No. 19, in C, K.465, saw the artists gracefully digging into its legato phrases, and even including hints of portamento – the entire piece is nicknamed "Dissonance" simply for this unusual introduction. Brief, but memorable, the intro then leaps into a more recognizable, Mozartian texture for the Allegro section. This rhythmic and melodic tapestry was a joy to watch – the four musicians in Greenville seemed to have a fun time fitting all the pieces expertly together. Bright yet gentle, the first movement was followed by the second movement's moody Andante cantabile, where the three higher strings' expressive lyricism shone with Kannen's steady cello.
The third movement, Menuetto and Trio – Allegro, puts the artists' skillful articulation on full display, sometimes rapidly switching between styles, and often in unison. Intricacy abounded in the final movement, a delightfully virtuosic Allegro.
Mozart's Divertimento for String Trio, in E-flat, K.563, is surprisingly the only string trio the composer ever completed. The work's six movements explore a variety of forms and tempos, yet Kim, Kannen, and Gregorian (now playing the viola) consistently played with a high level of sensitivity and beauty. Bookends of faster movements did not outshine the movements within, such as the third, Menuetto (Allegretto), a dance with few pauses and flowing patterns traded amongst the instruments. Movement five, the Divertimento's second minuet, brought forth the trio's playfulness, especially in Kim's lilting melody against the robust viola and cello harmonies. This playfulness continued through the joyful finale, with bold dynamic shifts, intriguing countermelodies in the lower two instruments, and a sharp homophonic rhythmic motif repeated throughout the movement, all leading to a fulfilling triumph.
Perhaps unrelated to Mozart but totally related to the Four Seasons' mission of community outreach, the Festival is also producing a series of live performances at one of the most unique, yet unsurprising venues for 2021 – a vaccine clinic. In partnership with Vidant Health, Four Seasons has brought daily live music to the vaccine clinic at the Greenville Convention Center, so if you're getting your COVID-19 vaccine in Greenville soon, be on the lookout!