Monday, December 8, 2008

Music preview: Delray Quartet to launch first CD

By Greg Stepanich

DELRAY BEACH — The Delray String Quartet will launch its fifth season this Sunday afternoon with music by Antonin Dvorak and Mozart in the first of five concerts that will include, in February, the world premiere of the String Quartet No. 3 by the Miami-based composer Thomas Sleeper.

But there will be another milestone to mark on that first concert: The release of the group's first commercial recording, an all-Dvorak disc featuring the String Quartet No. 12 in F, Op. 96 (American), and the Piano Quintet No. 2 in A, Op. 81, with pianist Tao Lin, who teaches at Boca's Lynn University.

The disc will sell for $15, and is being released on the quartet's own label, Poinciana Recordings, said the quartet's manager, Don Thompson.

The disc was recorded at Criteria Studios of Miami, where hundreds of classic pop and rock recordings have been made over the past 50 years. Richard Fleischman, the quartet's violist, said in an e-mail message that the engineers at Criteria — which is part of The Hit Factory — helped the group make a "disc we feel proud of."

Fleischman (at left) wrote that the impetus for making a disc of these two works, which are among the Czech master's most popular chamber pieces, came from audiences in 2007 who admired the live performances the quartet did that season of the Piano Quintet. The American quartet — which is on the program Dec. 14 — was chosen as a companion piece, and Fleischman said it turned out very well, especially given that the group had not played it before in concert.

"There seems to be a really good energy and chemistry going on in the American, particularly the slow movement," he wrote.

The Delray also will begin its new season with a different cellist joining first violinist Mei-Mei Luo, second violinist Laszlo Pap, and violist Fleischman. Cellist Ian Maksin has moved to Chicago, which has made it too difficult for him to continue in the group, Thompson said.

Susan Moyer Bergeron, who played the very first Delray concert as a fill-in for Maksin, now assumes the chair permanently. Moyer Bergeron is a familiar face to area concertgoers as a member of the Florida Philharmonic and as a regular with the Palm Beach Chamber Music Festival. She currently is a member of the Naples Philharmonic cello section.

Fleischman said the group is looking forward to making more recordings, this time with newer music.

"Now that we have some standard repertoire recorded, we are excited to see what kind of contemporary music we can record and really make our own," he wrote.

The Delray String Quartet opens its season at 4 pm Sunday at the Colony Hotel in Delray Beach. The program features string quartets by Dvorak (No. 12 in F, the American) and Mozart (No. 17 in B-flat, K. 458, the Hunt). Single tickets are $35. Call (561) 213-4138.

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