The concert opened with Bucolics for viola and cello, by the twentieth century Polish composer Witold Lutoslawski. Performed by violist Amy Leonard and cellist Jie Jin, Bucolics is comprised of five movements based on five Polish folk songs. Throughout the piece, haunting melodies were combined between the two instruments, with an especially striking juxtaposition in the Allegretto sostenuto movement that combined a beautiful viola passage against cello pizzicato.
Violinist Meredith Amado joined the ensemble for the next piece, Beethoven’s String Serenade in D major. An early Beethoven work, the seven movements featured each of the three instruments. The concert concluded with Ernest Chausson’s Piano Quartet in A major with Hiroko Yamazaki at the piano. Composed in 1897, the piece has at once a traditional yet modern sound, not quiet Impressionist yet neither heavily romantic.
According to pyxispianoquartet.com, the ensemble was founded in 2009 to perform chamber music that encompasses traditional and contemporary works for piano quartet. Their concerts also include duo and trio repertoire. The group is named for the Pyxis constellation which is also known as the Mariners’ Compass whose symbol is the compass rose. The symbolism of the compass rose reflects the group’s mission to take the ensemble in new musical directions while recognizing the different backgrounds and experiences of its musicians.
Proceeds from Sunday’s concert benefited Saint Gabriel’s Food Cupboard in southwest Philadelphia, and Siloam Wellness. Saint Gabriel’s Food Cupboard serves the poorest residents of the Gray’s Ferry section of Philadelphia. Siloam Wellness offers integrated programs for people affected by HIV/AIDS, focusing on healing of the whole person, body, mind, and spirit as a complement to traditional medicine.