Our quintet has just returned from performing Schubert's great C major string quintet, usually referred to as "the cello quintet". Our two cellists were Margaret Tobolowska and Leah Wyber, the other violinist my husband Mark, and the violist Paul Casey ( who was the 2011 NACO Bursary winner). Schubert died when he was only 31, and he wrote this quintet only weeks before his death, when he was quite ill. In this incredible music I hear his sadness and anger at his illness, but mostly I hear his great love of life. The music runs the gamut of emotions, with often quick changes in mood. I strive to live my life "in the moment", which is an on-going learning process, but I find this music particularly inspiring towards that goal. I have the feeling that in his illness, that's exactly what Schubert was able to do.
We played in a log cabin that's a community centre in Gatineau, for a club of sociable and engaged retirees. They were an amazing audience; they were extremely attentive and I was happy to hear afterwards that everyone had smiles on their faces. Most of Schubert's works make me feel that way, and this one in particular.
I have been a member of NACO since 1997, and despite a very busy teaching schedule and a young family, I have chosen to remain active as a chamber musician. Concerts like this one today provide every inspiration for the extra practicing: We got to play one of the greatest pieces ever written for an interested audience, who were able to sit close to us.
It was great to have this chance to really go out into the community. One of the organizers told me that she had listened to a recording of the Schubert cello quintet for years, and she was so happy to hear it played live today. Despite our limited French, we were able to speak with the audience about the music and answer questions about our instruments and preparation.
It was a wonderful way to spend a beautiful spring afternoon, and it was great to hear directly from the audience how much they enjoyed the music.
By Leah Roseman