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Gerald Carpenter: Jasper String Quartet Comes to the Mountain in Ojai

At 4 p.m. Saturday in the Beatrice Wood Center for the Arts, the Happy Valley Cultural Center will host the next concert in the debut season of the Chamber on the Mountain series (led by director Heidi Lehwalder), this one featuring the prize-winning Jasper String Quartet, with J. Freivogel and Sae Chonabayashi on violins, Sam Quintal on viola and Rachel Henderson Freivogel on cello.

Jasper Quartet
The Jasper String Quartet — violinist J. Freivogel, left, cellist Rachel Henderson Freivogel, viollinist Sae Chonabayashi and Sam Quintal on viola — will play in Ojai on Saturday. (Mozingo Photography photo))

The program includes the String Quartet in D-Major, Opus 76, No. 5 by Franz Joseph Haydn, the "Sarabande" from the Quartet No. 2 of Aaron Jay Kernis and the String Quartet No. 14 in C#-Minor, Opus 131 by Ludwig van Beethoven.

The half-dozen quartets of Haydn's Opus 76 — called the "Erdödy Quartets" because they are dedicated to an Hungarian nobleman Count Joseph Erdödy — constitute an enlarged Pentateuch of the quartet literature. Written when the composer was in his mid-60s, while he was still as musically viogous as a 30-year-old, they are his last full set of quartets. They are not his last quartets, though even if they had been, they would not be his last word on the form.

Like all immortal masters, Haydn hoped that the last word would never be spoken. He was the Kappelmeister of the Enlightment. No. 5 has a poignant adagio and a mad, breathless finale.

Kernis is a professor of composition at Yale University, which has always shown great taste in musicians. His music is unmistakably contemporary, never abrasive and often gleams with a Part-like purity.

The Beethoven has been, I swear, the subject of more monographs than a sane person would want to read in a lifetime. It is hung with Teutonic theories like a Christmas tree.

It's unsurpassable profundity is insisted-upon by all who know. It is a club to beat cultural slackers with. It is also, if you lean forward far enough to get drawn in to the opening fugue, one of the most vivid — and intensely beautiful — musical journeys you could ever take.

The Beatrice Wood Center for the Arts is located at 8560 Nordhoff Road (aka Ojai-Santa Paula Road) in upper Ojai. Tickets to this concert are $25 for general admission and $15 for students. The venue has limited space, so the Chamber on the Mountain people are recommending that you make advance reservations guaranteed by credit card or personal check.

To make reservations, and obtain detailed instructions on getting to it, call 805.646.3381 or click here to visit the website.

— Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributing writer. He can be reached at [email protected]. The opinions expressed are his own.

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