Portland String Quartet

The outstanding Portland String Quartet performed at 2 p.m. Sunday, December 4, 2016 at Woodford's Church on Woodford Avenue in Portland, ME. Notable at this performance was the addition of guest soloist, Jesus Alfonzo, violist, who performed as fifth member of the ensemble, the richly beautiful String Quintet No. 2 in G Major by Johannes Brahms, after intermission. Alonzo, born in Caracas, Venezuela, is on the music faculty of Stetson University and is a member of the Bach Festival Orchestra in Winter Park, FL. He has written a book in which he credits the PSQ as being influential in the development of El Systema, the Venezuelan system of youth orchestras. That explains their longtime relationship. The delightful William Grant Still selection offered an opening number with a light musically open sound, clear as sparkling crystal, in the afternoon sun. I remember detecting the folk melody "Go, tell Aunt Rhody the old gray goose is dead." The third item was the only string quartet that Verdi ever wrote in which a theme heralds one from a future opera. Regretfully, my notes were lost with the program insert and this is all that I can venture without referring to them. That is, except to say that the PSQ lived up to its well- earned constantly high reputation for programming and performance. The experience was truly a gift of the season. May I refer you to Christopher Hyde's review at www.maineclassbeat.com?

Mary Elizabeth Nordstrom