Music review: The Fine Arts Music Series: Quattrocelli Cello Quartet

 
 

The Community Fine Arts Music Series presented the Quattrocelli Cello Quartet Sunday. This group is redundant in name only. The ensemble’s good humor and excellent arrangements made for an afternoon at Bradenton’s First United Methodist Church that was funny, entertaining, jazzy, clever and filled with enough schtick to bring back Victor Borge.

The four cellists, Lukas Dreyer, Harwig Christ, Michael Peternek and Matthias Trueck, all Germans, are obviously well-trained, serious musicians, but they’re also fine comedians with a good sense of timing and an excellent concept of what pleases an audience.

This concert was the last of what sounded like a breakneck tour of the U.S. When traveling by air, cellists must buy seats not only for themselves, but also for their cellos. But, for some reason, on their way to Tampa for this concert, United Airlines decided only two cellos could fly strapped into seats, while the other two were relegated to baggage. There was a stop in Chicago. You guessed it: The four cellists made the connection with only two instruments. The other two cellos got left behind, to be delivered only moments before the concert began.

So, it was with a bit of panting and pandemonium that they made the concert at all. And, then, one of the cellists broke a string mid-performance. Finally, with a lot of German-accented joking and joshing, things settled down and the real fun began.

This group plays without music, so the cellists’ facial expressions and body language are important parts of the concert. From the opening Bach “Air on a G String,” to the myriad movie music samplings, these guys were a rollicking bag of tricks and schticks. Using their cellos as everything from the string instruments that they are to picking one up and strumming it like a guitar, plucking the strings like a zither and even using the bow as if it were a trombone (you had to have been there), these young men gave us a concert that was pure entertainment. Sure, their intonation could have been better at times. And the emphasis on commercialism and sales of CDs could have been cut back. But they had a gimmick, and it worked so well we could only sit back, smile and have fun.

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