Imagine sitting in an ornate Parisian salon a century ago luxuriating in melodies by revered composers. An identical intimate opportunity awaits wherever the Left Bank String Quartet piques the senses with the flavor of Slavic romance tapped by composers Johann Hummel, Anton Dvorák and Johannes Brahms.
The members of LBSQ are violinists David Salness and Sally McLain, violist Katherine Murdock, and cellist Evelyn Elsing. Their devotion to chamber music and individual collaboration with an astounding roster of contemporary artists in this country and abroad enable them to recreate the sounds envisioned by the world’s great composers. For the Allegro Moderato movement from Hummel’s Clarinet Quartet in E-flat major and the Brahms Clarinet Quintet, they are joined by National Symphony Orchestra clarinetist Loren Kitt.
Salness, a professor of violin and director of chamber music at the University of Maryland, has prepared student winners of top prizes. A member of the Audubon Quartet for twelve years, he has performed with members of the Guarneri, Juilliard and Cleveland quartets and appeared in major venues worldwide including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw and London’s Wigmore Hall.
Sally McLain launched her career playing at the Tanglewood Music Center, the Bach Aria Festival and Institute and New York String Institute. She has appeared at the National Gallery of Art, the Corcoran Gallery, Lisner Auditorium, and with the NSO at the Kennedy Center. In addition to playing chamber music with the Embassy Series, the Potomac String Quartet and 20th Century Consort, she frequently performs with Eclipse Chamber Orchestra.
Violist Katherine Murdock is a world-traveling chamber artist, performing in Edinburgh, Salzburg, New Zealand, South America and with such noted chamber groups as Music from Marlboro, the Boston Chamber Music Society and the Brandenburg Ensemble. She was a member of the Mendelssohn String Quartet from 1988-1994, touring and serving as Artist in Residence at Harvard University and the University of Delaware. At present she is on the faculty of SUNY Stony Brook and the University of Maryland and performs and records as a member of the Los Angeles Piano Quartet.
Cellist Evelyn Elsing, a professor of cello at the University of Maryland, appears frequently throughout the Washington, DC area with local ensembles. Among her honors are the Stanley Medal from the University of Michigan and an NEA Solo Recitalist Fellowship Grant. Summers find her on the faculty of the Interlochen Center for the Arts and participating in the Aspen, Ravinia and Spoleto Festivals.
Salness emphasizes that each musician in the ensemble brings talent and enthusiasm to their performances, taking cues from the composers whose works they celebrate.
He says that Hummel knew how to set off the woodwind, so they open on a high note with his clarinet, violin and viola quartet, followed by Dvorák’s last quartet containing American and Czech influences. He was optimistic and happy when he wrote it because he had just returned home after being in the United States quite a few years. The warmth of being home highlights the soulful slow movement. Both he and Brahms were good friends and Brahms tried unsuccessfully to convince him to move to Vienna. His quartet goes well with the Brahms Clarinet Quintet because Brahms was looking eastward at the time and was fascinated by folk music. These quartets composed within a period of 12 years represent great experience and the rich threads of their backgrounds that create independent tapestries.