The Aizuri String Quartet presented a most impressive concert Thursday on March 5 at Peace United Church in Santa Cruz as part of the Distinguished Artists series. The quartet draws its name from the unique Japanese wood block prints usually in Prussian Blue color and quite valuable. Members of this superb quartet based in NYC are Miho Saegusa and Emma Frucht violins, Ayane Kozasa viola and Karen Ouzounian cello.
The concert program consisted of Antonín Dvořák’s Cypresses; Lembit Beecher’s These Memories May Be True; Armenian Folk Songs by Soghomon Soghomonian, an ordained Armenian priest commonly known as Komitas. These five works were based on Armenian folk songs and arranged by Sergei Aslamazian. At the Purchaser’s Option by Rhiannon Giddens and the String Quartet in D minor Op. 56, Voices Intimae, by Sibelius concluded the innovative program.
The Washington Post hailed the Aizuri for “captivating performances that draw from its notable meld of intellect, technique and emotions.” I would add “quartet artistry and sensitivity of the highest level.” In 2019, Aizuri was nominated for an Award, based on their performances and most deserved! Without doubt, Aizuri is a superbly accomplished string quartet characterized by warmth and expressive insight as well as technical brilliance, all of which places them in a unique league of the very finest quartets concertizing today!
The grace and elegance characterizing the rhythmic freedom of playing in challengingly-pulsed music, as in the wonderful compositions of Beecher and Komitas works, were particularly impressive. It might be noted that the cellist is married to Beecher, a fantastic Santa Cruz product. In all of the works the Aizuri performed before the impressive large audience, they created a musical atmosphere based on mutual respect and partnership. All four members looked for and found details
that refined the intimacy of their performance. Their phrasing and attention to dynamics, pizzicati and subtle glissandiwere nothing short of breathtaking, and it allowed the musical flow to flourish. Aizuri is a string quartet not to be missed!