Performing Arts

The Bergonzi Quartet charms in a Mainly Mozart concert

The Bergonzi String Quartet charmed at the Biltmore in a Mainly Mozart Festival concert.
The Bergonzi String Quartet charmed at the Biltmore in a Mainly Mozart Festival concert.

In the penultimate event of this year’s Mainly Mozart Festival, the Bergonzi String Quartet presented one of the eponymous composer’s later quartets, as well as a pair of Romantic works. The Sunday afternoon concert in the intimate Danielson Gallery at the Biltmore Hotel was well attended by an appreciative audience and only slightly marred by the ambient noise of other hotel activities bleeding into the venue.

The Bergonzi Quartet leaned towards a light touch and galant style in Mozart’s Quartet No. 21, K. 575. Violinist Glenn Basham displayed delicate articulation in the first movement’s opening, and the tight performance evinced a strong ensemble unity. The prominent cello part throughout the work, written for the work’s commissioner King Friedrich Wilhelm of Prussia, was ably brought off by Ross Harbaugh with precision and alacrity. The Andante conjured a sweet, semplice mood, and Harbaugh’s solo cello playing here was gentle and plaintive.

The minuet was charmingly rendered, highlighting its sprightly nature and contrasts of mood. In the finale, the violin duet between Basham and second violinist Scott Flavin was ear-catching, and the group’s refined dynamic control throughout spoke to the quartet’s fine sense of phrasing and musical acumen.

Hugo Wolf’s Italian Serenade was originally meant to be part of a larger work, but the composer later abandoned the idea in favor of letting the brief movement stand on its own. The quartet energetically negotiated the work’s syncopations and cross-rhythms, conveying the drama and contrasts in the music. Basham and Harbaugh again distinguished themselves in solo passages, and the stylized textures in the tremolo and pizzicato passages exuded an eerie, anxious pathos.

The final work on the concert, Reinhold Gliere’s String Quartet in A major, is one of the composer’s earliest works. The work’s opening theme, presented first in the viola and cello, was soulfully rendered by Pamela McConnell and Harbaugh. Basham’s solo passages were also dramatic and pyrotechnic, and the second movement was characterized by lively, agile playing.

The third movement evoked a pale and meditative landscape, punctuated by folk-like melodies and frenetic textures. The quartet acquitted itself especially well in the aggressive and syncopated sections, reminiscent of Beethoven’s C-sharp Minor Quartet. The finale displayed the quartet’s impressive ensemble but also allowed the individual soloists to display their talents. McConnell’s lyrical viola solo was especially fine, and the group delivered the dramatic and propulsive conclusion.

For an encore, the quartet offered Enrique Espin Yepez’s Danza Ecuatoriana.

The final concert of the Mainly Mozart Festival takes place at 4 p.m. Sunday at the Arsht Center’s Knight Concert Hall, 1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, with a choreographed adaptation of Liszt’s Dante Symphony featuring Miami City Ballet dancers. Tickets are $30 ($10 students). Call 305-949-6722, visit or

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