With each performer donning a pair of opaque black shades, Cindy Chen ’18, Shen Duan ’19, Douglas Yang ’20, Lauren Lee ’19, and Alexander Horvat ’20 launched into a rendition of Mozart’s Clarinet Quintet in A major, K. 581. They began their performance with slow, smooth melodies on the clarinet, violins, and cellos, stretching out each note to make each harmony soft and mellow. As the piece progressed, the performers shifted to a more rapid pace, morphing the soft melody into a cascading whirlwind of different tunes. With one final resounding stroke of the string instruments, the performers lapsed into a gradual silence.
“My favorite part was probably when the group came out wearing sunglasses. It kind of contradicted the music they played, which was classic versus ‘hip’. It was just really interesting and it had me very curious. None of the performers did that or something similar, and it seemed like a strange but also cool touch to their performance,” said audience member Mamie Wilson ’20.
This piece was one of many performed at the Chamber Music Society Concert, which took place this past Saturday night in the Timken Room of Graves Hall.
“There’s a Chamber Music Society concert at the end of every term. But why is any concert held? To challenge the performers and entertain the audience. Playing chamber music is the best way to become adept at performing music. I think of it as a team sport. Listening to it is often a delight,” wrote Neil Fairbairn, Adjunct Instructor in Music, in an email to The Phillipian.
The recital also featured Beethoven’s Trio for Piano, Clarinet and Cello, Op. 11, performed by Chen, Nate Cruz ’18, and Ariel Wang ’20. The piece began with long sorrowful notes from Cruz’s cello as Chen’s steady, rhythmic chords complemented the cello and the piercing tunes of the clarinet melded with the cello’s harmonies. As the piece climaxed, Wang’s fingers danced across the piano keys, her rapid, twinkling notes sharply contrasting with the deep, smooth notes of the cello and clarinet.
“My favorite part of the Beethoven is the end of the second movement because the second movement is the slow movement. It starts off with a beautiful cello solo, and it ends with the same cello solo, but the clarinet is playing a countermelody and the piano’s got flowing stuff, kind of like a waterfall dripping down at the end,” said Cruz.
The concert also included a performance of Flute Quartet No. 1 in D major, K. 285 by Mozart, performed by Angelreana Choi ’19, Lance Freiman ’19, Irene Kwon ’21, and Jonathan Lin ’19. With the lilting notes of the flute, the violins began to draw out staccato notes, complementing the fluttery flute melody. Soon, the cello, with its deep, slow notes, joined the pair, adding further depth of tone to the performance.
“It’s just very charming and really exciting and lively and fun to play, in my opinion. And I’ve always wanted to play with strings because in previous chamber concerts, I’ve only worked with other woodwinds or brass instruments. And for the people, mostly because they were my friends, but also, all of them are very, very good players in their respective instruments,” said Choi.
After intermission, the concert featured a rendition of Joseph Bodin de Boismortier’s Sonata No. 5 in D minor, Op. 34 with Alex Park ’21, Ora-Rose Cullen ’19, Catherine Shi ’18, and Hanna Wu ’20. The composition began with a haunting harmony from the oboes, violin, and piano. And as the performance continued, the same rhythm made its appearance throughout the different movements, serving as a melodic motif.
“The Boismortier quartet is written in the form of a canon. One instrument starts a tune and another instrument picks it up later — kind of like singing ‘Three Blind Mice’ as a round. It’s fun to hear the tune emerging again and again as each musician plays it,” wrote Fairbairn, the performers’ musical coach.
Editor’s Note: Lauren Lee is a Layout Editor for The Phillipian.