Brentano Quartet members say they’re having fun onstage at Cliburn

Posted Monday, Jun. 03, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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On day 3 of semifinals, three of the four members of the Brentano Quartet managed to squeeze a bit of time from their break between chamber performances to reflect on their experiences at their first Cliburn Competition. We grabbed them in a practice room and chatted after Claire Huangci’s performance of the Dvorak piano quintet. And, fittingly for violinists Mark Steinberg and Serena Canin, and violist Misha Amory — all of whom are 45 years old, their answers could not have been more harmonious.

“It’s great to be here,” began Canin before being echoed by Steinberg and Amory. “It is both physically and mentally taxing for sure,” added Amory, who also indicated that all four members of the team stay in Cliburn-worthy shape by getting as much sleep as they can “and making sure to eat a big breakfast each morning,” said Canin.

“But what I didn’t expect from playing here,” continued Canin, “is just how much fun it has been playing in such a wonderful atmosphere filled with such a great spirit.”

Despite critical reviews that have been to the contrary over the past three days, the three Brentano members (cellist Nina Lee was not interviewed) said they were very happy with the music they could produce with the Cliburn players, after only a minimal, 90-minute rehearsal time with each contestant.

We asked them to “dish” a little bit about which of the competitors has given their favorite and least favorite performances so far, but they politely declined to discuss specifics.

“Considering that we could not go into any minute detail of the piece with each player, it actually made playing the piece a bit simpler,” observed Amory.

“But,” added Steinberg, “since a lot of what happens between us and the pianist is unspoken anyway, we were gladly discovering new things while playing the piece on stage. One of the biggest things we learned is that there is no one hard and fast approach to these pieces.”

— Andrew Marton, Special to the Star-Telegram

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