IMPRESSIONS OF EXCELLENCE
"These four women throw out a voluptuous wall of sound," said Fanfare magazine in describing a recording by the Cassatt String Quartet, which will be the second of six ensembles performing in the 1997-98 Slee/Beethoven Quartet Cycle. This cycle is always of great interest to Buffalo's large audience for chamber music, but this year a special extra is attached to the performances because the visiting quartets will all be "auditioning" for the open position of "quartet in residence" on the faculty of the University at Buffalo's music department. The four women in the Cassatt Quartet took their name from Mary Cassatt, the prominent American impressionist painter from the turn of the century. They will play Beethoven's Quartet in E-Flat, Op. 74 ("Harp"); Quartet in G Major, Op. 18 No. 2, and Quartet in C-sharp minor, Op. 131 in Slee Concert Hall on the UB North Campus at 8 p.m. Thursday.
LONG, STRANGE TRIP
This is Sam Shepard on writing plays, in a recent interview (from the Paris Review, Spring 1997): "I felt kind of like a weird stenographer. I don't mean to make it sound like hallucination, but there were definitely things there, and I was just putting them down. . . . For some reason my attempts at narrative turned out really weird. I didn't have that kind of voice, but I had a lot of other ones." Shepard is not to be confused with the movie star, although they are the same man. The real Shepard is one of our finest writers. The movie stuff isn't the right stuff, it's just for fun and money. For years Shepard has been one of our best playwrights, and he is a very good short story writer. (Check out his "Cruising Paradise," now in paperback.) He is also good at self-description. His plays can be weird. "A Lie of the Mind" begins with a nighttime roadside call from a pay phone and goes from there into strange territory. Often, as here, the territory consists of shiftless families and shifting personalities, suggesting buried deposits of dysfunction and trauma.
The Ujima Theatre Company will perform Shepard's "A Lie of the Mind" starting next Friday at 8 p.m. Gerald C. Ramsey directs, and it features Jessi Able, Pat Armstrong, Juanita Evans, Philip Knoerzer, Meghan Rose Krank, Tim Newel, Heather O'Toole and Guy Wagner. Performances in TheaterLoft, 545 Elmwood Ave., continue at 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and at 6 p.m. Sundays, through Nov. 23.
NEW TO YOU
It is, by universal acclaim, a devastatingly powerful film -- the last great film, in fact, by the great Italian neo-realist master Vittorio DeSica. It was released in 1971, and on the occasion of its 25th anniversary it was fully restored with a couple new scenes discovered and added. Despite all that, the restored version of DeSica's great masterpiece "The Garden of the Finzi-Continis" won't have been seen in Buffalo before its showings Sunday and Wednesday in the Annual Jewish Film Festival at the Amherst Theater, now in its 13th year.
The festival begins at 7:30 p.m. Saturday with the Buffalo premiere of Eduardo Mignagna's Argentine film "Autumn Sun" with the great Argentine actress Norma Aleandro and Frederico Luppi, about middle-aged lovers finding happiness across the religious divide. Also in the series are the Buffalo premieres of the following: Ismail Merchant's 1996 film "The Proprietor," starring Jeanne Moreau as an aging novelist in midreflection; Ferid Boughedir's 1996 Tunisian film "A Summer in Lo Goulette," about teen-age girls declaring religious peace in order to lose their virginities; Alexander Rosler's 1997 film "Mendel," about German Jewish refugees in Norway; Moshe Mizrahi's 1996 Israeli romance "Women"; Oren Rudavsky and Menachem Daum's 1997 documentary "A Life Apart: Hasidim in America"; Marcia Jarmel's 1997 film about women and Orthodox Judaism, "The Return of Sarah's Daughters"; Reihard Shwabenitzky's 1996 Austrian intrigue "Hannah," and Susan Dryfoos' 1996 documentary about the great theatrical cartoonist Al Hirschfeld called "The Line King."