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Twisting for Solos, the Violist Is a Quartet’s Odd Player Out

A solo during a quartet often forces a violist to awkwardly contort his or her body, as here with Lawrence Dutton, right, and the Emerson String Quartet.CreditCreditRichard Termine for The New York Times

A solo during a quartet often forces a violist to awkwardly contort his or her body, as here with Lawrence Dutton, right, and the Emerson String Quartet. Credit:Richard Termine for The New York Times

There’s not much to look at when a string quartet is playing. Other than the movements that draw sound from the instruments, the scene is relatively static.

But train your eyes on the violist, and sooner or later you may well witness what seems like a secret struggle. The player’s body language becomes a spiral of contradictions, like someone keeping up dinner-table conversation while scanning the room for the waiter. Chances are that in this awkward yet riveting moment, you witnessed a viola solo, a phenomenon that is rare in chamber music, often fleeting and even physically taxing. Full story.

Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim (The New York Times) / August 31, 2018

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