We are here to encourage the development of gifted young singers and to stimulate the growth of New York City's invaluable chamber opera companies. But we will not neglect the Metropolitan Opera either. Get ready for bouquets and brickbats.

Monday, November 19, 2018


The Verona Quartet: Jonathan Ong, Abigail Rojansky, Jonathan Dormand, and Dorothy Ro

Imagine being in a glamorous penthouse in Tribeca.  Imagine being surrounded by a bunch of the "beautiful people" of New York City. Imagine being entertained in this private salon by a world class string quartet. Imagine a charming sommelier introducing you to some interesting beverages including champagne, hard cider, and stout. Imagine nibbling on interesting cheeses.  (No pepper jack or generic Swiss here!)

If you were a member of Mise-en-Scène Studios, affectionately called MESS, you might have shared this stellar experience with us. This was just one of three exciting experiences this week created by MESS founders Lachlan Glen and Ben Bliss.  Just in case you don't know them, Mr. Bliss is the Metropolitan Opera's new star tenor and Mr. Glen travels the world as solo pianist, conductor, and collaborative pianist.

MESS programs allow for lots of socializing between sets of music and sommelier Andrew Stenson (who also happens to be a terrific tenor) curated the wines to match the musical program.

Guests were treated to several movements of Beethoven's final String Quartet Op. 135, of which we preferred the slow movement.  As a matter of fact, we would have preferred to hear the work in toto and in its proper order but no one else seemed to mind its balkanization.

The Beethoven was interspersed with movements of Jánaček's "Intimate Letters" Quartet which was informed by the composer's unfulfilled longing for a young married woman. We heard some of this work this week at other MESS events but, in this venue, it was easier to concentrate on just how engaging is the artistry of the Verona Quartet.

Each member seemed totally involved with the music. Moreover they have engaging personalities and each one shared a bit about themselves as well as information about their respective instruments--some new and some centuries old.

They also played a work they commissioned from contemporary composer Julia Adolphe. I appreciated their description of the composer's intent but regular readers will recall how strongly I believe a work should speak for itself. Whatever the message of "Star Crossed Signals" was, we unfortunately failed to get it. Not a criticism.  Just our taste.

Speaking of taste, we loved Mr. Stenson's taste in beverages and admire the way he tried to pair them with the music.

We absolutely cannot wait for the next MESS event on December 11th in Williamsburg. We never miss the annual "Goyishe Christmas", devised by the beloved Steven Blier of New York Festival of Song, and comprising Christmas music written by Jewish composers.  Don't miss it!

(c) meche kroop

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