Pyxis Piano Quartet
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Delaware Arts Info

Sunday, April 9, 2017
Pyxis Brings Beethoven & Faure to Life on Market
By Christine Facciolo

Market Street Music welcomed spring and Pyxis Piano Quartet to its Festival Concert series on Sunday, March 19, 2017, which paired Beethoven's String Trio in G major with Faure's Piano Quartet in C minor.

The Opus 9 string trios offer a fascinating portrait of the young composer bursting with ideas as he took a musical form born as the baroque trio sonata and gave it new life as only he could. But as striking as they are, they represent the last gasp for a form that would soon be eclipsed by the string quartet.

Pyxis wisely chose the first Trio of Op. 9, a gem from its opening note to its last. This performance of the longest and most difficult of the trios earned the ensemble a well-deserved ovation. The opening and closing movements were technically perfect in every dimension. The wonderful slow movement with its pastoral theme in the distant key of E major received a most moving, heart-longing treatment. The breadth of expressiveness was especially remarkable considering the movement's simplicity of form.

A proper contrast to the Adagio came with the buoyancy of the Scherzo and then with even more vitality a throw-caution-to-the-wind finale. All in all, a fitting performance of one of Beethoven's "best works so far."

Violist Amy Leonard introduced the Faure Piano Quartet by telling the audience that while she and her colleagues couldn't offer Paris in springtime, they could bring a bit of the city into First & Central Presbyterian Church.

Leonard also noted that while the work is cast in a minor key, it's a "happy minor," with a positive tone albeit with some hints in the slow movement of the turmoil in Faure's personal life at the time of composition.

Leonard contextualized the work by noting that just as Beethoven was a transitional figure between the Classical and Romantic periods, Faure stood at the crossroads of the Romantic and modern eras. Indeed, Romanticism and its doleful heroics are left behind in this work. The first movement is a fluid blending of energy and lyricism. The high-spirited and virtuosic Scherzo delights with pizzicato-pricked perpetuum mobile fantasy. The grand Adagio imbues profound passion with classical restraint and balance. A soaring Allegro caps all with a shimmering major/minor gaiety.

Balance, ensemble, superb intonation and sensitive interpretation characterized this performance. None of the loud passages were overplayed. When one player had a solo passage, they came out just enough then returned to their dynamic place.

Special honors go to pianist Hiroko Yamazaki. Pianists have a special balance problem when playing in quartets because the sound of their instrument is so much fuller than a single string instrument. Not so here. Yamazaki was always at the correct level. Quite remarkable!

October, 2016

We welcome Luigi Mazzocchi as our violinist. Meredith Amado has moved to Maine with her family, and we wish her all the best.

Luigi studied in the renowned Venezuelan musical training program "El Sistema," as well as at the Latin American Violin Academy with José F. del Castillo. He was first violinist of the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra and a member of the Lara Symphony Orchestra and the Chamber Orchestra of Venezuela. He has performed as a soloist with the main Venezuelan orchestras and has attended international music festivals in the Americas, Europe and Australia.

Currently the Concertmaster of both the Pennsylvania Ballet Orchestra and the Ocean City Pops Orchestra, Mr. Mazzocchi serves also as the Associate Concertmaster of the Delaware Symphony and Co-Concertmaster of the Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra. He is also a member of the Opera Company of Philadelphia, the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, the West Jersey Chamber Orchestra, the Philly Pops, and the Gaudeamus and Cachasa ensembles.

 

Recent reviews!

Delaware Arts Info
Wednesday, October 5, 2016
Market Street Music's Season Opens with Pyxis Piano Quartet
By Christine Facciolo

Pyxis Piano Quartet opened a new season of Market Street Music Festival Concerts Saturday, October 1, 2016 with its usual combination of superb playing and interesting programming. The ensemble consisted of Luigi Mazzocchi, violin; Amy Leonard, viola; Jie Jin, cello and Hiroko Yamazaki, piano.

The bulk of the program featured two works written a century apart: Mozart's Piano Quartet No. 2 in E-flat Major (K. 493) and Richard Strauss' Piano Quartet in C Minor, Op. 13.

Luckily for us, when Mozart's publisher canceled his commission for a series of piano quartets, the composer had already completed the second quartet and it was published by another firm in 1786. K.493 is one of Mozart's greatest compositions and a classic of the genre with its pristine form, gracious themes and exquisite interplay between instruments.

The first movement — Allegro — begins intensely but offers gracious themes throughout. The Larghetto is a richly conceived slow movement featuring an exquisite interplay among piano and strings. The third movement Rondo — Allegretto — is full of fire and energy with a prominent piano.

Pyxis was most sympathetic to this spacious and outgoing work. Particularly attractive were the gently springy rhythms and exquisite phrasing of the strings in the first movement and Yamazaki's beautifully shaped phrasing in the Larghetto.

Whereas Mozart wrote his quartet at the height of his musical maturity, Strauss was a mere 20 and very much in the thrall of Brahms when he composed his work. The result is an unusual fusion of musical personalities: the gravitas of Brahms and the fire and impetuousness of the young Strauss. Rich and dark, the work is full of blazing energy.

The playing has all the attributes you would expect from Pyxis: impeccable intonation and fluid tempos that allowed the music to flow in unbroken phrases. The players were individually excellent, as was Mazzocchi's rendering of the main theme of the Andante and Yamazaki's voicing of the chords supporting him. But they are at their best when they function as an ensemble, as in the tight Scherzo or the virtuosic interplay of the closing Vivace.

The evening opened sans piano with the playful Mozart En Route (A Little Traveling Music) by Aaron Jay Kernis, past recipient of the A.I. duPont Composer's Award. Inspired by a letter from Mozart to his father, in which he complains of being jostled during a particularly rough carriage ride, Kerns' short (three-minute) string trio takes listeners on a whimsical musical trip from Salzburg to Nashville and back. Thematic variation is the rule as familiar-sounding pop styles interweave with the classical tradition with several quotations from Mozart's Divertimento for Strings, K. 563.



Broad Street Review
Wister and More! presents the Pyxis Piano Quartet
Pyxis's musical journey Margaret Darby
September 19, 2016 in Music

The large and regal building of the German Society of Pennsylvania houses an elegant auditorium used for many functions, including a concert series. This week, the Wister and More! Series hosted a concert by the Pyxis Piano Quartet.

Delaware audiences have embraced the four-woman team, which was founded in 2009. Their concerts at the Delaware Art Museum are mobbed. Music quartets require a relationship as intimate as, or more so than many marriages. They must rehearse constantly to develop that ability to think, breathe, and play collectively, and the ensemble dominates their lives.

The group’s founding violinist, Meredith Amado, moved to a small town in rural Maine, so they are looking for a new violinist. For this concert, they appeared with guest violinist Eliezer Gutman, concertmaster of the Kennett Symphony, Allentown Symphony, and Opera Delaware. Born in Romania, Mr. Gutman has both a highly polished technique and lighthearted spirit when he plays the violin.

The first piece, Mozart en Route, a trio by Aaron Jay Kernis, was written for children, and was inspired by a letter from Mozart in which he complained that his carriage journey was rough. The performance might have been more effective if they slowed it down, but playing at the tempo they used meant the reverberations of the room made the sudden jazz licks and folk flourishes hard to hear.

When pianist Hiroko Yamazaki joined the trio for Mozart’s Piano Quartet No. 2 in E-flat major, K. 493, her ability to produce quiet gossamer whispers on the Bösendorfer grand piano gave the group a chance to take advantage of that reflective sound. Each voice entered as if the stage had been cleared for takeoff. This was beautifully executed in the contrapuntal sections of the third movement. The timing, dynamics and voices came together, and the result was a thrilling, yet delicate, rendition. The violin and viola were so closely aligned that when they exchanged voices they used the same register and intonation, becoming almost indistinguishable.

The Piano Quartet in C minor, Opus 13 by Richard Strauss, showed both his fascination with Brahms and the early harmonic experiments that led to his tone poems. The string writing pushed the string players to the fore, sometimes at a frenetic pace in the scherzo. The andante, which has some of the most Brahmsian melodic writing, was calmer. In this movement, Strauss wrote some wonderful melodic lines for the cello, which Jie Jin unfolded with melting lyricism.

Ms. Yamazaki has played with the Delaware Symphony as a guest artist many times and the three string players have been members as well, but for them to produce such a cohesive performance with a new violinist is remarkable. The challenge of seeking someone new for their ensemble will be a maturing journey for the group and seems to be a very musical one as well.



On October 1, 2014, Amy returns as guest artist with the wonderful La Bernardinia baroque ensemble. The program consists of German quartets and trio sonatas by Bach, Telemann, and Quantz. Part of their lunchtime series, the concert is at 12:30, at Church of the Holy Trinity, 1904 Walnut St., Philadelphia. Free will offering accepted. www.bernardinia.org

9.5.13 Amy is pleased to be joining the Copeland String Quartet this season for three performances of the Mozart Quintet in C major, K. 515.
Concerts are Nov. 13, 7:30 at the Willow Valley Cultural Center, Willow Street, PA, Jan. 12, 4:00 at All Saints Church in Wynnewood, PA, and Jan. 26, 4:00 at the Church of the Holy City, Wilmington, DE.

The contemporary octet Relâche, of which Amy is a member, is proud to announce its upcoming three-concert "Season at the Museum". All programs are Sundays at 3 PM; November 24, February 9, and June 1. The new venue is the Penn Museum www.penn.museum 3260 South Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104, on the University of Pennsylvania Campus, adjacent to Septa's University City Station. The concerts will be in the beautiful and newly renovated Widener Lecture Hall. The room has excellent facilities for movie projection, and in addition to Relâche's musical repertoire, each program will feature silent film with live music accompaniment. The films of Buster Keaton, Alfred Hitchcock (yes, he began in the era of silent film!), Max Linder, and others will be shown, along with selections from Relâche's soon-to-be-released CD Comix Trips, the cover of which features each Relache member in comic strip form.

3.10.13 As Artists in Residence at St. Monica's Church in Berwyn, we will be performing a program of Bach, Mozart and Brahms at 3pm. We will also be playing two services in the morning.

3.9.13 Amy will be performing the Marc Lavry Suite Concertante for Flute, Viola, and Harp, Op. 348 with Lynne Cooksey, flute, and Janet Witman, harp on April 10, 2013, 7 pm at the Music School of Delaware in Wilmington.

10.7.12 Hiroko is playing a few Poulenc's Improvisations as part of the Steinway Event at the Delaware Art Museum.

8.14.12 We are excited to continue our residency at the Delaware Art Museum which will be sponsored by Wilmington Trust. We are also delighted to announce that new and notable venues for our fourth season include a March performance for the Festival Concert Series at First and Central Church in Wilmington and our Philadelphia debut in February at the German Society of Pennsylvania.

4.28.12 Hiroko will be playing with the Juniper Piano Trio on May 5th at 7:30pm at Rock Hall on the campus of Temple University in Philadelphia. The program is Beethoven Piano Trio in Eb Major, Op. 1, No.1, Mark O'Connor F.C.'s Jig for Violin and Cello and Mendelssohn Piano Trio in D minor, Op.49. The concert is free.

4.4.12 Amy just completed a CD recording of the works of Johann Friedrich Fasch with Philadelphia's baroque orchestra Tempesta di Mare and will appear as guest principal violist in the orchestra for the Handel Choir of Baltimore's concert performance of Handel's opera Semele on April 21.

4.4.12 Jie Jin will perform Cello Concerto in C Major by Haydn with Bay Atlantic Symphony Orchestra on June 7th at 8pm in First Presbyterian Church of Cape May, New Jersey.

4.3.12 Meredith Amado will be performing with her husband, David Amado, for the Annual Meeting of the Jewish Historical Society. This event will be at 3:45pm on April 27th at the Bernard and Ruth Siegel Jewish Community Center in Wilmington, Delaware, and is free and open to the public. Please RSVP by April 9 to 302-655-6232.

4.3.12 Meredith and David Amado performed for the Governor Jack Markell and First Lady Carla Markell on March 14th at the Buena Vista Estate in New Castle, Delaware.

2.19.12 Pyxis are recipients of a grant from The Brandywiners, Ltd.!

1.18.12 Jie Jin will be performing a Xinjiang folk song as part of the celebration of the Chinese New Year on Saturday, Jan. 21 at the Sandy Run Middle School from 2-4:30 p.m. A Chinese Cultural Workshop and presentations of Chinese Performing Arts are scheduled. Admission is free.

1.8.12: Hiroko Yamazaki and Amy Leonard will take part in the Music School of Delaware's celebration of Claude Debussy's 150th birthday Wednesday, February 8, 2012 at 7:00. Hiroko and Lotus Cheng will perform the Petite Suite for piano, four hands, and Amy will perform the Sonata for Flute, Viola, and Harp with Lynne Cooksey and Janet Witman.
The Music School of Delaware's Wilmington Branch is located at 4101 Washington Street, Wilmington , DE 19802. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for seniors and students. For more information, please call the Music School at 302. 762.1132.

11.6.11: Pyxis will be part of the festivities to celebrate the Delaware Art Museum's 100th birthday party on November 12th hosted by Gerret and Tatiana Copeland. The elegant black-tie Gala will also include champagne, hors d'oeuvres, a sumptuous dinner, and other surprises! Contact Heather Anderson at handerson@delart.org or 302.351.8520 for more information.

10.20.11: Jie Jin and Thomas Kraines will perform the world premiere of Robert Maggio's cello duo Jackson Sounds in partnership with BalletX and choreographer Matthew Neenan. Performances are November 16-20, 2011 at the Wilma Theater in Philadelphia.

   
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