Two major performing arts series celebrated anniversaries Saturday night at the Lied Center for Performing Arts: 25 years for the Lied Center, and the Sheldon Friends of Chamber Music celebrates its golden anniversary this season.
Collaborating, the two organizations presented a concert with the Escher String Quartet and the Chiara Quartet, along with two other players. The ensembles would tackle the huge Mendelssohn Octet in E-flat Major, Opus 20.
You’ve met the Chiara before, the quartet-in-residence at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Korff School of Music. Escher was formed about 10 years ago with a push from the Emerson Quartet.
Chiara family members joined for the two opening numbers. Cellist Norman Fischer joined violinist Rebecca Fischer for the Maurice Ravel Sonata for Violin and Cello. Nadia Sirota joined violist Jonah Sirota for a viola duet, a transcription of Bela Bartok’s Duos for two violins, Sz. 98.
Escher led off the quartets with the Haydn String Quartet in D Major, Op. 50 No. 6, which is named “The Frog.” Escher played “The Frog” well with good communication on the finale.
Chiara offered the Brahms String Sextet No. 2 in G Major, Op. 36, with Nadia Sirota and Norman Fischer joining. The ensemble echoed Rebecca Fischer’s bold interpretation of the heroic violin theme in movement three.
The Mendelssohn masterpiece stole the show. It appeared the quartets might be out to compete against each other, but it was instead a challenge to see how well each player could support the seven others in the ensemble. Teamwork was best noted in the scherzo movement, where themes and accompaniment trade off continuously.
The 600 patrons came to their feet at concert’s end with cheers and whistles. Time for an encore, but not the expected one: The quartets played “Happy Birthday,” with the audience singing along to salute the two series.