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WQXR Features

Escher String Quartet Plays for Zabar’s Shoppers

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Shoppers at Zabar’s got an unexpected treat with their smoked fish, cheeses and baked goods Wednesday morning. The Escher String Quartet planted itself in front of the fish counter of the Upper West Side food emporium and began playing the first movement of Beethoven’s “Serioso” Quartet.

The performance coincided with Trout Week, the WQXR chamber music festival.

As customers lined up for lox and waited on whitefish, the string quartet emerged from Broadway, instruments in hand, and launched into the turbulent strains of Beethoven's piece. Shoppers reacted with a mix of astonishment and seen-it-all nonchalance.

The Escher, which takes its name from artist M.C. Escher, normally plays in more traditional venues including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, 92nd Street Y and Symphony Space in New York. The group will be touring China in May.

“This is definitely the most unusual performance we've ever done,” said cellist Dane Johansen. The group's other members -- violinists Adam Barnett-Hart and Wu Jie and violist Pierre Lapointe -- were seen buying a raisin bread after the performance.

Video: Amy Pearl and Jen Hsu; Text: Brian Wise