Review: Beethoven Festival Abounds With Art

Review: Beethoven Festival, Merit School of Music Sept 10, 14, 2013 by Elliot Mandel @Cello_guy Three quarters of the way through their set of South American music with accordionist Julien Labro at the Merit School of Music Saturday evening, the members of the Spektral Quartet lean back and put down their instruments – violinist Aurelien Pederzoli takes a seat in the front row.  Labro begins a meandering improvisation before launching into a rollicking cover of Stevie Wonder’s “Isn’t She Lovely” on solo squeezebox.  In a small way, this is the magic of the 2013 Beethoven Festival.  The audience – some seated around the quintet, some leaning against the bar, at least one listener lounges in the tepee in the far corner – is entranced by the music and ensconced in floor-to-ceiling artwork. Wait, why is an accordionist playing Stevie Wonder at something called the Beethoven Festival?  Who cares.  “Music is music,” said Alban Berg to George Gershwin (thanks Alex Ross).  No ensemble in Chicago embodies this idea more than the Spektral Quartet, which regularly programs Mozart, Haydn, and Beethoven alongside the ensemble’s contemporaries such as Marcos Balter and Chris Fisher-Lochhead. Read the full review here
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