Last Thursday’s concert at Lakewold Gardens for the Second City Chamber Series was everything the classical era aspired to be: elegant, serene, harmonious and just a touch witty, thanks to a quartet of local string players.
Violinist Blayne Barnes (recently returned to Seattle from Minnesota) and Tacoma native/Minnesota cellist Diane Tremaine Kogle joined Tacomans Janis Upshall on violin and Mary Manning on viola to play music of Esterháza, the Austro-Hungarian court where Franz Joseph Haydn produced the bulk of his compositions. Like the Monticello-themed concert last month, the idea of pairing a beautiful classical music location with Lakewold’s green serenity worked well, the quartet harmonious with the surroundings.
After a rather wobbly beginning with Mozart’s “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik,” with differences of tempo and intonation, the quartet broke into two fine duos by Hadyn and his contemporary Ernst Eichner. Barnes’ clear, birdsong tone was a good match for Kogle’s robust phrasing, despite straight-laced playing; the Ernst, however, was the gem of the whole concert, with Upshall and Manning exquisitely balanced and fluidly interchanging ideas. It’s nice to hear these two women, who mostly play in local second violin sections, out in a well-deserved spotlight.
Finally, the group found a good groove in Haydn’s quartet in B-flat major op. 76 no. 4, through a firework allegro, treacly adagio, a menuetto full of Marx Brothers humor and a snowballing finale, the strings resonant despite the dry room of Wagner House and meshing into a harmonious whole.
Half of this quartet will play again in a free concert during the Fircrest Fun Days at 5:30 p.m. on Aug. 13, joined by Gwendolyn Taylor on violin and Stuart Hake on cello. They’ll play light classics and fiddling favorites. Fircrest Fun Days happens at Fircrest Park, 555 Contra Costa Ave., Fircrest.
The Second City’s 2011/12 series begins on Oct. 28 at Annie Wright Great Hall. 253-272-TUNE, www.scchamberseries.org