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The Guarneri String Quartet performed its last concert at the Metroplitan Museum. The quartet, formed in 1964, has been playing at the Met since 1966; this is their farewell season.

The members–Arnold Steinhardt, John Dalley (violin), Michael Tree (viola) and Peter Wiley (cello)–were joined on the last number by David Soyer, the group’s original cellist. Steinhardt, Dalley and Tree are all original members.

The hall was packed, with stage seats and standing room only. The program was Beethoven #12, Op. 127, and Schubert’s cello quintet in C Major, Op. 163. 

At several points in the program, I thought how those Viennese liked their beergardens, since both composers suggest such music. It must have had an edge then, though it has a different edge to us now, conjuring up a lost Austro-Hungarian world.

The Beethoven was finished and performed in 1825, the Schubert finished in 1828 though not performed until 1850. What was going on in America then? I could not imagine James Madison, say, or Old Hickory comprehending either piece; though I could imagine Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis responding to the Schubert (both were romantic statesmen), provided they were at all musical.

Enough history. A page of musical history turned last night. Bravo, gentlemen. Bravo.



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