Musicians want audiences to respond to their performances, but not always with thunderous applause.
For instance, there was a cello recital at USF last week where nobody dared to clap for the first few moments after a performance of Schnittke's Sonata for Cello and Piano. It was an act of reverence toward such a bleak and horrific piece.
It was a similar experience Wednesday as the Palladium Chamber Players performed their season finale. The night included somber, serious and emotional selections as well as a healthy portion of lighthearted and humorous music. The almost sold-out hall chuckled, collectively sighed and sometimes couldn't contain their applause between movements, even though that is generally considered taboo.
Violinist and Florida Orchestra concertmaster Jeffrey Multer and pianist Jeewon Park started the concert with Beethoven's "Spring" Sonata in F major, Op. 24. Written in the same key as his "Pastoral" Symphony, this sonata is less like shepherds by a brook and more like visiting your quirky uncle in the countryside. The audience certainly enjoyed Beethoven's cheeky humor during the third movement scherzo, which is full of off-kilter stumbles.
Joaquin Turina's Quartet for Piano and Strings in A minor followed on the program. Written at the peak of Turina's creativity, this work is fiery at times — especially rhythmically — and draws heavily on Andalusian music from Spain. Park was solid on her part throughout, but Multer, cellist Edward Arron, and violist Danielle Farina lent an intense passion to the performance. The best moments of the concert? When the strings were in perfect unison during this work.
After intermission, the ensemble finished with Antonín Dvořák's Quartet for Piano and Strings in E-flat major, Op. 87. The slow second movement might be one of the most gorgeous pieces Dvořák wrote. It starts off with the cello delicately accompanied by the rest of the quartet. This theme recurs throughout the movement and Arron modified it beautifully so that it didn't get stale. He is a master of drawing different colors from his cello. The rest of the work is pretty standard Dvořák fare, but the audience still instantly rose to their feet when it was done.
One thing is clear after this series: There is definitely an audience for midweek chamber music in St. Petersburg. And Multer announced the series will continue next year.