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Mixed Company is written by Saint Paul Sunday staff, giving you a behind-the-scenes look at the show and the classical music they love. We welcome your online comments.

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May 4, 2005

Spoleto Con Brio

The first time I visited Charleston, South Carolina I was a college sophomore and I still remember being struck by just how old much of it is. Somehow I hadn't expected—in this country—to see gravestones from the late 1600s and buildings predating American Independence. It lent a certain magic to the city's maze of overgrown churchyards and cobblestone alleys…

Returning years later with friends, I found that each summer Charleston hosts its perfect soul mate—the Spoleto Festival—which among many other things keeps the historic wooden Dock Street Theater humming with superb chamber music performances.

This week, Charles Wadsworth, founding granddaddy of Spoleto’s Chamber Music Festival-within-a-Festival, brings several young friends along for a taste of those occasions. Charles, often in seersucker, announces music from the stage, sometimes joining in himself.

He does the same here this week with Chee-Yun, Todd Palmer, Andrés Díaz, and Wendy Chen. When we recorded them, their affection for each other was obvious, and I felt, as maybe you will, that this was the perfect way to hear Dvořák and Mendelssohn—with friends, on a Sunday, followed by a stroll or a mint julep in the summer sunshine.

If you have any memories of your own from Spoleto (or from Tanglewood or Marlboro or Roundtop or...) we'd love to hear them.

Posted by Vaughn Ormseth at May 4, 2005 2:27 PM



As usual, nice program with wonderful playing. (The Mendelssohn trio was played as well as I've ever heard it--at least via my Bose radio.) My one criticism is that SPS showcases too much music already in the mainstream (this week's encore piece notwithstanding).

Last night I heard the Tokyo String Quartet play Schoenberg's quartet no. 2 (with soprano Amy Burton) at NY's 92nd Street Y and it just knocked me out of my seat. This is one of the most beautiful quartets I've ever heard.

However, having no knowledge of these pieces as I've never heard ANY of his quartets played previously, I've avoided them out of ignorance--not liking his pieces for orchestra.

How about bringing in a string quartet for an hour's worth of Schoenberg?

John Niesyn
Fairfield, CT

By John Niesyn at May 8, 2005 10:16 PM


Hi John,

That's a good idea. We usually ask the musicians to bring music by more than one composer for diversity's sake. But this is a good idea and we'll keep it in mind.

By Suzanne Schaffer at May 11, 2005 11:59 AM