The Gryphon Trio and Attacca Quartet at this February’s Scotiabank Northern Lights Music Festival
By Jim Cooper
The last two weeks of February in Ajijic are a cultural oasis because of the Scotiabank Northern Lights Music Festival which returns every year to thrill us with outstanding world class musicians. This year they have managed to bring a plethora of great artists such as virtuoso violinist Benjamin Bowman, the brilliantly talented pianist Angela Park, and two of the best chamber ensembles that have ever graced the world’s concert halls, the Gryphon Trio and the Attacca Quartet.
The Gryphon Trio has impressed international audiences and the press with its highly refined, dynamic performances and has firmly established itself as one of the world’s preeminent piano trios for the last twenty years. With a repertoire that ranges from the traditional to the contemporary and from European classicism to modern-day multimedia, the Gryphons are committed to redefining chamber music for the 21st century. The Trio’s celebrated recordings on the Analekta label are an encyclopedia of works by Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Dvorak, Lalo, Shostakovich, and Piazzolla. Their groundbreaking 2004 release, Canadian Premieres, featured new works by leading Canadian composers and was acknowledged with a coveted Juno Award from the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Their 2011 Beethoven recording also received a Juno Award.
One of the pieces they’ll be performing on the opening night of the Festival, February 16th, is Schubert’s masterpiece, B flat major piano trio. Schubert, more than any other composer, had a penchant for writing charming pretty music, and lots of it. His gift for melody is well known and it usually only takes a bar or two to identify a piece of his. Schubert’s B flat major piano trio is no exception. Written in the last year of his short thirty-one year life, there is no hint of melancholy or self-pity. Filled with joy and beautiful melody, Schubert’s everlasting optimism even in the face of sickness and death, shines through.
The Attacca quartet is one of Lakeside’s favourites. Their concerts are often the first to sell out. First Prize winners of the 7th Osaka International Chamber Music Competition in 2011, top prizewinners and Listeners’ Choice Award recipients in the 2011 Melbourne International Chamber Music Competition, and winners of the Alice Coleman Grand Prize at the 60th annual Coleman Chamber Ensemble Competition in 2006, the internationally acclaimed Attacca Quartet has become one of America’s premier young performing ensembles. Praised by Strad for possessing “maturity beyond its members’ years,” they were formed at the Juilliard School in 2003, and made their professional debut in 2007 as part of the Artists International Winners Series in Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall. From 2011-2013 they served as the Juilliard Graduate Resident String Quartet, and for the 2014 – 2015 season the Attacca Quartet was named the Quartet in Residence for the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
At their Salon Series concert on February 22nd they will perform works by both Janacek and Grieg. Filled with psychological drama, conflict and passionate emotional outbursts, Janacek’s famous “Kreutzer Sonata” for string quartet, based off of Tolstoy’s novella of the same name, depicts the jealous rage of the human condition. In his own words Grieg comments “It strives towards breadth, soaring flight and above all, resonance for the instruments for which it is written.”
Lakeside wouldn’t be fun without these fabulous events. The Festival runs Feb. 16 to Mar. 1 in locations all around Lakeside but the main concerts are held at the Auditorio in La Floresta on the carretera. Tickets are very reasonably priced at $300 pesos. For more information check www.scotiabanknorthernlightsmusicfestival.com
For more information about Lake Chapala visit: www.chapala.com