Quintet brings soul to Capuchin cathedral

BEIRUT: Since it was founded three years ago, Kaslik’s arts and cultural center Selecteum des Arts and des Sciences has scheduled concerts in the classical vein every month or so. Selecteum’s house chamber orchestra, as it were, is the quartet Musique Del Tempo, comprised of violinists Brin Hashim and Michel El Murr, violist Samir Amouri and cellist Anastasia Yartseva El Murr.

MdT’s came to Beirut Tuesday evening for their performance of “Vision vers l’Inifni” (“Vision to Infinity”), at the venerable Cathedrale Saint-Louis Capuchin, in the shadow of the Grand Seriil, at the north end of Zoqaq al-Blat.

In honor of the occasion, the quartet was temporarily transformed into a quintet, augmented by Russian cellist Svetlana Yartseva, who came into town especially for this concert.

Duly reinforced, MdT performed a program of works by well-known “classical” composers – Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Albinoni, Elgar, Saint-Saens and Glazunov – and a couple of somewhat more obscure figures. The whole thing took more than an hour.

The concert got started with the string quintet of French composer Henri Reber. MdT’s performance of Reber’s passionately undulating work was playful, with an interesting interplay between the cellists.

A more robust piece, Beethoven’s “Kreutzer Sonata” appears to have provoked a sincere emotional response from some members of the cathedral audience.

In addition to the Reber and Beethoven works, the quintet also played Hashim’s arrangement of Tchaikovsky’s “Season Autumn Jazz.” This was followed by Albinoni’s “Adagio,” “Salut d’Amour” by Edward Elgar, “Le Cygne” by Saint-Saens and Glazunov’s “Oriental Dance.” They also performed Russian composer César Cui’s “Oriental Melody.”

MdT’s harmonious operation wasn’t compromised by the addition of a second cellist named Yartseva. Violinists Hashim and Murr, and violist Amouri were in particular able to pull reserves of power from their instruments, enabling them to deliver their program with aggressive strength.

The cellists Yartseva also performed powerfully, which was supplemented by the sensuality of their approach to the instrument.

Perhaps the best word to describe this performance of the augmented Musique Del Tempo is equilibrium.

Through them a warm breeze and velveteen atmosphere wafted through the cool interior of the Cathedrale Saint-Louis Capuchin, transforming the historic place of worship into an intimate performance venue.

For information on events at Kaslik’s Selecteum des Arts et des Sciences visit the website

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on July 19, 2012, on page 16.




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