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March 25, 1994 - Image 10

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1994-03-25

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10 - The Michigan Daily - Friday, March 25, 1994

Emerson breaks the
mold of string quartets

The Emerson String Quartet has a
mission. "We're trying to tear down
the image of the string quartet as
stuffy old men playing music that's
not all that interesting," said violist
Lawrence Dutton in a recent telephone
Stuffy old men they are not. The
four men of the Emerson, who are
actually closer to middle-age than old-
age, have the dual mission of bringing
the classical repertoire to life while
bringing new or neglected works to
Mission accomplished, if you
consider the program their Rackham
appearance. Two quartets by
Beethoven, one early (op. 18, no. 2),
one late (op. 130, with the "Grosse
Fuge" finale), and the first string
quartet of American composer Charles
Ives make up the program.
Given the quartet's reputation for
performances both fiery and polished,
and the juxtaposition of two of
Beethoven's masterpieces with the
little-known but eminently agreeable
Ives quartet should make any music
lover eagerly anticipate tonight's
The Emerson String Quartet has
come a long way since their student
days at Julliard. In the spirit of the

Bicentennial year in which violinists
Eugene Drucker and Philip Setzer
founded the group, a distinctively
American name was chosen for the
group. (Writer and philosopherRalph
Waldo Emerson was the inspiration;
other names, like the Nixon Quartet
or the Boss Tweed Quartet, were
considered but ultimately rejected.)
When violist Dutton joined in 1977,
and cellist David Finkel in 1979, the
current personnel was complete.
It was many years of hard work
before the quartet started receiving
the attention they do now. If the
Grammy Awards (they won another
one this year for their Ives recording),
exclusive Deutsche Grammophon
recording contract, international
concert tours, and the dozen or so
works written for them are any
evidence, they have certainly proven
themselves to be one of the major
string quartets in the world today.
So what's ahead for a quartet in
their prime? In two words - a lot.
"We have been immersed in
Beethoven this year," remarked
Dutton, explaining that the group is in
the midst of recording the complete
quartets, to be released in 1995. This
is a remarkable, perhaps
unprecedented feat, considering that
most quartets take three years to record

Musical 'Blue' plays with
freshness and promise
The Ann Arbor 1 & 2 continues its ongoing music fetish as "Blue" follows
"The Piano" and "The Accompanist" to the theater as films in which music is
the central motif and metaphor of the work. In this instance, rather than a single
metaphorical object (such as a piano), the music is an off-screen reminder df
something lost.
That "Blue" is the first installment of an already planned trilogy "Three
Colors" is an indication that the@
ambition of the film may outreach its
Bitie results. "Blue," however, retains a
fresh quality for much of the film with
Written by Krzysztof Kieslowski an early hook, an outstanding lead
and Krzysztof Piesiewicz; directed performance and an ongoing
by Kieslowski; with Juliette Binoche assortment of visual metaphors before
and Benoit Regent. the script loses its soul and concludes
with an overstated and simplistic
formula for happiness undercutting the less accessible but far more intriguing
earlier portions of the picture.
Julie (Juliette Binoche) loses her husband, a revered classical composer,
and her only daughter in an automobile accident. After contemplating suicide
she instead decides to sever all ties with her former life and attempt to liberate
himself from the past by beginning a new life of anonymity. The memory or
her environment of the music is the one element of her former life from which
she cannot escape. Her husband's former assistant, who is in love with Julie,
also acts as a metaphor for the past and her pain.
Co-writer/director Krzysztof Kieslowski avoids any temptation to provide
Julie easy comforts or the opportunity to live out some clich6 of a dream which
was impossible under the restraints of her marriage. Julie simply moves
downtown under the guise of her maiden name to liberate herself from thd
memories and objects of the past. It is Kieslowski's capacity for creating visual
atmosphere that maintains the film's power and provides an ironic foil for
Julie's desire for her life to be as devoid of splendor and atmosphere as
The visual effectiveness of the direction only allows itself not to swallow
the emotions of the lead character because of the performance by Juliette
Binoche ("Damage"). Binoche's facial features bear a strong resemblance to
Julia Roberts, but her talent as an actress is something Roberts could only wish
to resemble.
Binoche's Julie is alone much of the time and stoic when she is ire
someone's company, yet she creates a complex character and (like Holly
Hunter in "The Piano") does so many times without saying a word. Binoche
maintains the soul of the film when the script slowly begins to strip it and
continually challenges her character even after the conclusion to the film
looms obviously on the horizon.
"Blue" shows promise for both the "Three Colors" trilogy and director
Kieslowski. Within the metaphor, somewhat non-inclusive of American
audiences, the three colors are representative of the French dogma "liberty,
equality, fraternity." In this instance blue is representative of liberty -
specifically the personal liberty of Julie's severing herself from her former
ties. Hopefully as Kieslowski, so close to creating something a bit special,
continues this project he can improve with each subsequent film.

The Emerson String Quartet is trying to attract young audiences. Good luck.'


the cycle of 16 works.
Other forthcoming recordings
include the Dvorak and Schumann
piano quintets with Menahem Pressler
(pianist of the Beaux Arts Trio), the
complete string works of Webern,
and Barber's "Dover Beach" with
Thomas Hampson. The quartet also
plans to premiere works by Paul
Epstein and Edgar Meyer; they
recently gave the first performance of
Wolfgang Rihm's String Quartet No.
9, which they may also record in the
near future.
But the overarching goal for the
quartet is to reach more and younger
listeners. According to Dutton, "the
hardest thing is to develop new
audiences who will grow up to

appreciate (string quartet) music." The
solution, he said, might be to bring the
quartet to video. "One of my fantasies
would be an MTV-style program for
the string quartet. Ifonly young people
could see how exciting this music is
...," Dutton mused.
Well, young people, arise!Go hear
and see for yourselves. You won't be
QUARTET will perform tonight at 8
p.m. at Rackham Auditorium.
Tickets range from $20 to $29. $11
student rush tickets are available at
the Michigan Union Ticket Office
and the North Campus Commons.
For more information call the UMS
box office at 764-2538.

University of Michigan
School of Music
Friday-Sunday, March 25-27
The Magic Flute
Friday-Saturday, March 25-26
MFA Dance Thesis Concert II
Tickets: $5 (763-5460)
Betty Pease Studio Theatre, Dance Building, 8 p.m.
Just Desserts, or Have Your Cake and Eat It Too
Joan Morris's cabaret class and Stage Presence Ltd present a coffee
house-style cabaret of skits, songs, comedy-and desserts
Tickets: $9, students $6.50 (764-7544)
North Campus Commons Dining Room, 8 p.m.
Sunday, March 27
Percussion Ensemble
Michael Udow, director; Scott Parkman, guest conductor
Works by Kowalski, Cage, Harrison, and Udow
McIntosh Theatre, School of Music, 4 p.m., free
Tuesday, March 29
Arts Chorale
Jonathan Hirsh, conductor
Hill Auditorium, 8 p.m., free
Wednesday, March 30
Jazz Composers Orchestra
Big-band jazz, from Ellington and Henderson to contemporary
Rackham Auditorium, 8 p.m., free
Walton's The Bear
Opera Workshop production of William Walton's one-act opera
Joshua Major, director; Mutsumi Moteki, music director
McIntosh Theatre, 5 p.m., free
Thursday, March 31
Faculty Recital: Romantic Chamber Concertos
" Berg: Chamber Concerto for Violin, Piano, and Thirteen Winds
(Andrew Jennings, Robert Conway, Faculty Winds)
* Chausson: Concerto for Violin, Piano, and Strings (Steven
Shipps, Anton Nel, Faculty Strings; Stuart Sankey conducting)
Recital Hall, School of Music, 8 p.m., free
An Evening of Opera Excerpts
Opera Workshop presents excerpts from operas by Barber, Berlioz,
Bernstein, Floyd, Menotti, Mozart, Nicolai, Verdi, and others
McIntosh Theatre, 8 p.m., free
Thursday-Sunday, March 31-April 3
The Heidi Chronicles
by Wendy Wasserstein; Theatre & Drama Production
Tickets: $10, students $6 (764-0450)
Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.
Trueblood Theatre
Friday, April 1
Creative Arts Orchestra
Ed Sarath; director

ANN AR113gum %,!U
5th AVE. AT LIBERTY SIRENS (R( 761-9700
Please call for showtimes.
I W 4S 11I
Present this coupon with purchased ticket thru,4/30/94

[KahrnP. O'rien


1.S.W., A.C.S.W.
" Individual



with The Bottle Rockets
10 bIneks nnrth of the Fox

arence .Banchard
of Spike Lee movie soundtrack fame
Salif Keita
the golden throat of Mali
Monday, April 18
8pm Power Center, Ann Arbor
UM Major Events *VAC Soundstage + Eclipse Jazz
Michigan Union Ticket Office & all Ticketmaster outlets

APRI L 210 PM 2620 Wlmcian

An evening of readings from her new book,
"Stories from the Nerve Bible" 730 PM

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