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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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July 20, 2005

E Pluribus Unum

The ensembles that captivate me most quickly are usually those whose playing, in one way or another, reflects diverse artistic and life experiences.
In the case of the Johannes Quartet, its members’ varied musical lives hum along at an exceptionally high level—the group brings together the first American to win the Paganini Violin Competition in 24 years, a co-concertmaster of the Chicago Symphony, an associate principal of the Philadelphia Orchestra, and the principal cellist of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
Each of these notable players holds unique wells of insight and experience…But what’s most thrilling, as you’ll hear in this program, is how they’ve combined those respective backgrounds into a single whole, one that yields a very different kind of artistry than either solo or orchestral performance.
This comes across right away in both works the Johannes plays here. Their Haydn is brilliantly crisp and witty. The quicksilver pace they’ve mastered in its fast movements takes my breath away. And when they draw us into a very different soundworld—Alban Berg’s Opus 3 quartet—they’re equally up to the challenge, communicating all that work’s lushness and subconscious force. “It’s music that gets under your skin,” says Bill McGlaughlin. It sure got under mine. Yours too?

Posted by Vaughn Ormseth at July 20, 2005 4:57 PM



The streaming audio program you have on the web
for July 24, which is advertised as the Johannes
String Quartet on the website, is not that at all,
but a program on the baroque violin.

By attila levicivita at July 24, 2005 5:47 AM


Attila's observation is correct.

By Bob at July 24, 2005 11:30 AM


What a wonderful program and what a brilliant quartet the Johannes is. This is already a world class group. Technically nearly perfect, they play with such cohesion you'd never know they're a part-time emsemble.

Also, any chance of getting Martha Argerich and Gidon Kremer together in your studio?

John Niesyn

By John Niesyn at July 24, 2005 10:07 PM


To those of you who tried to listen to audio of this week's program and found it unavailable, we're working on the glitch and should have the correct program up again soon. Apologies!

John, thanks for the suggestion of an Argerich/Kremer duo. They're favorites of mine as well. I'll see what I can do!

By Vaughn Ormseth at July 25, 2005 9:18 AM