Uh-oh. You know the festival is winding down when you start seeing a few rows of empty seats at the Dock Street Chamber Series. As I took my seat for Friday morning’s concert, I felt a sharp pang of impending loss, since — after this one — there’s only a single program to go.
“Today we’re celebrating girl power,” said host Geoff Nuttall as he appeared to introduce the morning’s first music, the Piano Quintet No. 1 in A Minor, by 19th-century French female composer Louise Farrenc, probably the most successful lady tunesmith of her male-dominated era. By dint of sheer talent and achievement, she enjoyed a distinguished performing career and became a respected professor of piano (for 30 years) at the Paris Conservatory. Her remarkable music has fallen into comparative obscurity — undeservedly so, considering its rare craftsmanship and immediate musical appeal, qualities that were in ample evidence here.
Modeled loosely after Schubert’s famous Trout Quintet (we’ll hear it in the final program), she used the same unusual instrumentation (a double bass instead of a second violin), but that’s where the similarity ends.
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