THE YING QUARTET PLAYS AT KAYHI
By Sharon Lint
March 12, 2005
The Ying quartet is composed of siblings: violinists Timothy and Janet, violist Philip and cellist David Ying. The four were raised in Winnetka, Illinois, and formed the quartet in 1988 while studying at the University of Rochester's Eastman School of Music.
They won the International Cleveland Quartet Competition in 1989, and two years later, in 1991, made their New York debut at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. They began touring professionally in 1992, and in 1993, won the prestigious Naumburg Chamber Music Award.
Their dynamic interpretations of classical and modern string music has captivated audiences the world over. They have appeared in major cities all across North America and abroad in Japan, Germany, England, Sweden, Austria, Estonia, and Taiwan, as well. They have played in a wide variety of concerts all the way from Carnegie Hall and the White House to small hospitals and juvenile prisons. They have had the distinction of working with such artists as Menahem Pressler, Paul Katz, Gilbert Kalish, Jon Nakamatsu and the St. Lawrence and Turtle Island String Quartets.
Together with the St. Lawrence Quartet, they recorded the works of Osvaldo Golijov on an EMI Classics recording and the finished record was nominated for a 2003 Grammy Award. The New York Times reported in a recent review the quartet "produces a dark and sumptuous sound and moves as one. Those qualities made the quartet's concert both riveting and uplifting." The audience Wednesday night here in Ketchikan would seem to agree.
The interestingly varied program performed at Kayhi included Medelssohn's Opus 44, No. 3, Beethoven's Opus 18, No. 1, and "Dim Sum," a more recent composition. Each piece was performed with distinction.
The Quartet played a magnificent interpretation of Beethoven's F major Quartet, published as No 1. The piece is, in many ways, the strongest of the set. Young Beethoven sent the first version to his friend Carl Amenda, but later revised it. He also told Amenda that when composing the slow movement he had Romeo and Juliet in mind. The new version was a work of considerable power in which the composer showed not only his mastery of structural subtlety but also a new grasp of quartet texture. The passionate music and fine dynamics that alternates with a very muscular, intense outburst towards the end is striking.
Also striking was the way the Ying Quartet moved. They were splendid to watch as they worked seamlessly at their craft, cueing each other as they paused, lifting bows for just a moment of silence before once more gently motivating intricate music from the rigid strings of their instruments. The effect was very, very impressive and very Baroque.
The youthful work of "A Musical Dim Sum" took the concert in a new artistic direction. A medley of short works by Chinese-American Composers such as Chou Wen-Chung, Zhou Long, Tan Dun, Bright Sheng and Chen Yi were included. The Yings integrated this selection into the concert to celebrate and honor their Asian heritage. They hope to commission new works by other composers of Asian descent in the near future in order to expand the collection for their concert appearances and recordings.
The Ying Quartet also played Mendelssohn String Quartet in D Major (Opus 44, No. 1). For Ketchikan, it was a fitting piece so near to springtime, jubilant with great energy and dynamic contrasts. The second movement, Menuetto un poco Allegretto, was beautiful and elegant. The closing Presto was a delightful bit of fun and reminded one of the atmosphere of found in Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream.
The Yings have been hailed as the finest new Quartet in the world today. Perhaps that is because they seem to play from the heart, not the head. Their depth of feeling, their innovative technique, and the cohesiveness of their movements make them more than exceptional.
The concerts supported by the Ketchikan Area Arts and Humanities Council should not be missed. For future concert information, call 907-225-2211 or visit their website at www.ketchikanarts.org. For more information on the Ying Quartet, please visit www.yingquartet.com.
Contact Sharon at sharon(AT)sitnews.us
Sharon Lint ©2005