I had a nice chat yesterday with Toronto-based cellist Rachel Mercer. The interview won't be published in the Star until January, when she returns from extended touring for a solo recital with pianist Minsoo Sohn for Music Toronto (the picture is of the two of them performing at the Ottawa International Chamber Music Festival in 2008).
But we did talk about something that kept me thinking all day yesterday -- the connection between live music and other art forms on the same stage.
Mercer and her fellow members of the 12-year-old Aviv String Quartet -- one of her several regular collaborations -- have worked with an Israeli videographer to mix music and moving images. She also mentioned how the second movement of Beethoven's "Heiliger Dankgesang" String Quartet (Op. 132) runs in her head with four dancers moving to the music lines of each of the four string players.
So I decided to see if I could conjure up some sort of mental image of dancers in listening to the second movement. Perhaps it's lacking the physical connection of moving a bow and fingers over strings that stymied my imagination, but nothing came readily to mind. I'm more moved by the third movement -- the one that gave the quartet its nickname. In 1825, Beethoven had just recovered from a serious illness, and poured his gratitude into this long movement, adding the inscription in German: "Holy song of thanksgiving by a convalescent to the Divinity, in the Lydian mode."
Here is the late, lamented Alban Berg String Quartet, performing the second and third movements of Beethoven's Op. 132 String Quartet in 1989. The Viennese quartet disbanded last year. At the time of this live performance, the members were violinists Günter Pichler and Gerhard Schultz, Thomas Kakuska on viola, and cellist Valentin Erben: