Comfort among new friends

Posted Saturday, Jun. 01, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Cliburn semifinalist Beatrice Rana found, if not strength, great comfort in numbers, playing the first Cliburn chamber recital with the Brentano String Quartet.

“We are trying to be soloists. As pianists, we practice a lot alone in our studio and we are often alone on the stage,” she said after her performance. “So to be with others on the stage and to share with others this feeling, the excitement of the performance, it’s wonderful.”

The Brentano ensemble, a renown quartet who have been playing together since 1999, was a great comfort to the Bass Hall audience, too, some of whom had sat through 60 recitals in the preliminary round.

“We were talking about that before,” violinist Mark Steinberg said, laughing. “That for at least the first few notes everybody will say, ‘Oh, what a nice sound.’”

Steinberg said the quartet is aware of the respite they and the chamber music can provide amidst a grueling and tension-filled competition.

“It’s really a lot of fun,” he said. “This is our world, chamber music. I don’t think any of us are cut out for what it takes to be a a soloist. What they are going through here is unimaginable to us. For one round, for them to have some friends on stage that they can actually make music with is a really nice position to be in.

“We kind of feel like giving each of them a big hug just for making music together,” he said. “I think it’s nice in the middle of everything that goes on here.”

Rana said she was nervous before her Friday rehearsal with the quartet. Saturday was her first chamber music performance in a competition.

“I was really scared,” she said. “I didn’t know these people. But it was really easy. I just went there and played. We shared some ideas about music dynamics and tempe. We shared some ideas about the music and dynamics and tempe...It’s a stable quartet, not four musicians with single careers. Because they are already very strong as a group, they are very experienced as a group, they can provide a single idea, not four different ideas, so that’s wonderful.”

And it was wonderful to have someone to talk to backstage.

“Usually there is no one,” Rana said. “We are doing the same performance so its like being just one person.”

As she spoke backstage, the quartet walked by.

“That was beautiful,” cellist Nina Lee whispered.

Rana beamed.

“They are so nice,” she said.

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