Key Man

In chamber music compositions, the piano is often the glue that holds a piece together and such is the case with Olivier Messiaen’s “Quartet for the End of Time.” Of course it is often much more than a binder, and what better person to have at the keyboard than Gilles Vonsattel, whose skill and musicality were on magnificent display in Camerata Pacifica’s fascinating and masterful rendition of this demanding piece by the mystic ornithologist, written while he was a WWII prisoner of war in Germany. Giora Schmidt (violin), Ani Aznavoorian (cello) and  Jose Franch-Ballester (clarinet) each contributed as much to the success of this strange and beautiful musical journey (roughly 50 mins in length) into realms hitherto unimagined. A preview of the work at Camerata’s Speakeasy event the previous Saturday provided valuable insights and backstory to those who attended when they heard the official performance the following Friday. I was charged with getting some photos of Mr. Vonsattel during a soundcheck/rehearsal, and it was fascinating to see how far the musicians had come with the piece, and the interplay between them as they worked to put some finishing touches on it for their last November performance.