Their music is heard ’round the world. They have performed hundreds of concerts on five continents. “Musical sophistication” and “warm, unified sound” have been used to describe their talents, and they have received high praise from the likes of The New York Times, Toronto Globe and Mail, and La Sicilia (Italy). They are the Ciompi Quartet.
The Ciompi Quartet is a Duke University mainstay. It was founded in 1965 by Giorgio Ciompi, a renowned Italian violinist and a professor at Duke. He has since passed away, and the current members include two violinists (Eric Pritchard and Hsiao-mei Ku), a violist (Jonathan Bagg), and a cellist (Fred Raimi), all of whom are professors at Duke.
On Tuesday, October 8, 2013, the Ciompi Quartet performed a free, noonday concert at Duke Chapel as part of their Lunchtime Classics series. Tuesday’s concert consisted of all four movements of German composer Johannes Brahms’ String Quartet No. 3 in B-Flat Major, Op. 67. It was composed in 1875.
A brief introduction before the performance revealed that Brahms was a perfectionist. With a capital P. Brahms destroyed many of his works and left others unpublished. We are left with only three string quartets, (in addition to his ‘scores’ of works in other musical genres).
Somewhere between Vivace and Poco allegretto con variazioni, as I sat in the vaulted nave of the gothic-style Duke Chapel, I was struck by how fortunate I am to work on a university campus where cultural experiences and natural beauty (think Duke Gardens) are the norm. I suppose one could say that for a brief moment, I just lost myself in the movement.