Chamber Music Journeys Into the Romantic Era

The chamber music recital last Sunday provided the audience with a pleasant break from all the noise generated of start-of-school spirit. The concert featured Christopher Cooley on the piano, Andrew Eng on the violin, Andover alums James Larson ‘07 and Judith Lee ’95 on the viola and violin respectively and Tess Remy-Schumacher on the cello. The first piece was “Kakadu Variations,” by Ludwig van Beethoven performed by Cooley on the piano, Lee on the violin and Remy-Schumacher on the cello. The piece started out dark and dramatic with rich, languid notes from the violins and short single notes from the piano. It then transitioned into pizzicato from the strings and shorter notes from the piano that made this section sound much more upbeat before quickly returning to the heavier section. In this piece Remy-Schumacher was especially expressive in blending the cello notes with the violin. As the piece built up to its climax, anticipation built up in the audience until someone yelled “wow” as the audience burst into applause. The next piece featured was “Eight Pieces for Clarinet (or Violin), Viola and Piano in E flat Major, Op. 83” by Max Bruch. This piece featured Eng on the violin, Larson on the viola, and Cooley on the piano. “I really enjoyed playing the Bruch” said Eng. “It’s a wonderful piece, nice and romantic.” The piece started with a smooth and sweet andante section. Larson personified the languid movement of the music as Larson danced and swayed with the phrases. The second movement was darker and faster while keeping the romantic nature of the piece. In the third movement, the tempo sped up into a urgent frenzy that deposited itself in a final cadence. The entire piece possessed a hauntingly beautiful melody that showed itself in each movement. According to Lauren Montieth ’13 the piece was the narration of a story. Montieth said, “Just listening to it, I can imagine a story of lovers, meeting on a terrace dressed in fine clothes during a ball. I can just imagine a ‘Romeo and Juliet’ scene of star-crossed lovers.” The third piece was the premiere of a composition by one of the performers, Christopher Cooley. Visitors from the Andover area described the “Scherzo for Two Violins, Viola, Cello, and Piano” to be “short and sweet.” Cooley said, “I knew that we were going to be playing a series of concerts, so I thought it would be a good summer project to have. It took a week to write.” Cooley’s piece was inspired by romantic era music. Eng said, “My favorite was [Cooley’s] piece…Yes, I would say the same thing even if he wasn’t in the room.” “It was wonderful. His piece was the star of the show—high energy, lyrical and…fun to play.” The performers were all smiling while playing the piece. The group worked together well and showed a real sense of camaraderie. After the intermission, the final piece of the afternoon was Schumann’s “Quintet for Piano and Strings in E flat Major, Op. 44.” The first movement provided a glorious entry to the piece. The second movement slowed to a solemn funeral march with a mournful melody. It alternated between a slow march and a faster, more urgent feel before giving away to the third movement, characterized by a much more energetic and upbeat melody. The last movement featured a grand, speedy and dramatic finale. As soon as the performers played the last chord, the audience jumped to their feet, cheering wildly in hopes that the musicians come back for another visit.