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On Sunday, the Windermere String Quartet welcomes guest violist Emily Eng for a concert on period instruments of string quintets by Mozart, Boccherini and Onslow. The addition of a fifth player to the usually self-contained world of a string quartet brings to mind the perennial theme of The Guest, the outsider who catalyzes change, or reveals hitherto undiscovered truths.
It is a common theme in literature, theatre and film. Think of E.T., The Man Who Fell to Earth, Coming to America, all of whose plots turn on the unexpected arrival of someone from Elsewhere. Then there is The Hobbit, a story set in motion by the unexpected arrival of 13 guests!
Perhaps one of the most archetypal versions of this theme, though, and one which beautifully complements the opening work in our program, Boccherini’s Quintet in C, Op. 62 No.1, is “Frosty the Snowman.”
The popular holiday song by Walter “Jack” Rollins and Steve Nelson features a snowman who comes to life, joining in magical fun all winter, but then disappears as spring approaches. The tune is infectious, maybe a little silly, and beautifully crafted, much like Boccherini’s Quintet.
The composer of the second work on the program, George Onslow, is something of a guest himself, having been almost entirely absent from the familiar classical repertory for 100 years. In the early 19th century, though, he was well known and highly regarded, and his beautiful and expressive Quintet in E minor, Op. 19 inspires us to welcome him back anytime.
One of the most dramatic and musically unforgettable appearances of The Guest occurs in the penultimate scene of Mozart’s Don Giovanni, when the statue of a man who Don Giovanni has killed arrives at his house to give the legendary womanizer one last chance to repent before being dragged to hell.
Although the stakes are not quite so high in our Sunday afternoon concert, our Mozart masterpiece, the Quintet in D, K593, is brilliantly inventive and full of surprises.
The Windermere String Quartet, with guest violist Emily Eng, presents “To the Power of Five” on Sunday March 3 at 3:00 pm at St. Olave’s Anglican Church, 360 Windermere Ave. Tickets, at $20 or $14 for seniors and students, are available online at http://windermerestringquartet.com. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 416-769-0952.
Viola, Windermere String Quartet