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Fabulous Fiction Firsts #673

Wed, 06/27/2018 - 11:26am by muffy

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The Ensemble * * * by Aja Gabel is an intimate look at the high-stakes, cutthroat world of classical music and what it takes to survive.

The 4 members of the Van Ness String Quartet met as students at the SF Conservatory of Music. They would never have been friends but were imperfectly bound to one another for their love of playing together.  Jana, the first violin is a natural leader, “flinty”and driven; Daniel, a viola prodigy, has the making of (and the constant temptation to become) a soloist; Brit, the second violin, quiet and steadfast, suffers from her on-again, off-again relationship with cellist Henry, the oldest of the group - an angry skeptic who sleeps around. Over the next 2 decades, they stayed together in the face of professional temptations, dueling egos, rivalries, injuries, and bad judgment. Along the way, they also managed to become husbands, wives, and parents, and ultimately, a family.

“Like a talented, well-rehearsed quartet, this is the epitome of gestalt and lyricism. Gabel (a former cellist) explores friendship and art with great warmth, humanity, and wisdom. Each of the four parts begins with a selection of chamber music pieces that make a wonderful and fitting aural backdrop.” (Library Journal)

* * * = 3 starred reviews

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