Barrie Concerts & Georgian Music

Penderecki String Quartet with Pianist Ben Smith

February 24, 2024

Penderecki String Quartet

Sensuous, Colorful, Jazzy, Romantic....A Night of Music written in Paris!

On Saturday, February 24, at 7:30 p.m., the fourth concert in the Barrie Concert Association 2023-2024 season took place at Hiway Church. This concert featured the Penderecki String Quartet along with pianist, Benjamin Smith.

The significant audience filling the spacious interior of the Hiway Church sanctuary waited with hushed anticipation for the concert to begin. After being welcomed by BCA board member, Cheryl Graham, the audience was introduced to the Penderecki String quartet. Beginning their career as winners of the Penderecki Prize at the National Chamber Music Competition in Lodz, Poland in 1986, this quartet has gone on to become celebrated world-wide. They are comprised of Jeremy Bell (violin), Jerzy Kaplanek (violin), Christine Vlajk (viola), and Katie Schlaikjer (cello), each a renowned musician.

The program started with the String Quartet in F Major, by Maurice Ravel. From the sweet melody of the first movement, to the vibrant, plucked rhythms of the second movement, the somber and sensuous slow movement, and the final, riotous and climactic last movement, the Penderecki Quartet brought together the range of expression with a vitality and subtlety that fully demonstrated their masterful musicianship.

For the rest of the program the quartet was joined by pianist, Benjamin Smith. Performing extensively across Canada and the U.S.A, Smith is well known as a soloist, chamber musician and teacher. The second piece of the program, “La Creation du Monde” for Piano and String Quartet, by Darius Milhaud, brought Smith’s towering talents together with that of the Quartet in a lavish fusion of jazz and classical sensibilities. Starting with a melancholic and mysterious Prelude and moving through a bright, jazzy Fugue, an exquisitely bluesy, dissonant Romance, and a rollicking Scherzo, the piece ends with a Final bringing together everything from lament to exuberance. Smith’s playing shone with clarity throughout, adding depth and colour to the energy of the strings.

After intermission, the “Piano Quintet in F Minor” by Romantic composer, Cesar Frank was presented. Controversial in 1879 for its daring chromatic harmonies and constant harmonic movement, the five musicians brought it to life with magical and mesmerizing precision and sensitivity. The final movement, culminating in a fiery torrent of sound, brought the appreciative audience to their feet in a standing ovation.

Review written by Sandra Ruttan, Musician and Music Teacher

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VENUE: Hiway Church,
50 Anne Street North (MAP)
TIME: Saturdays 7:30pm


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Contact Info

Barrie Concerts & Georgian Music
P.O. Box 452 Barrie, ON L4M 4T7
Phone: (705)-436-1232. or (705)-726-1181 Email:
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