Fitzwilliam String Quartet graces Univ. with classical excellence

By Rob O’Donnell

Staff Writer

The Fitzwilliam String Quartet played a remarkable performance at the Sigfried Weis Music Building on Feb. 7. For all of you who did not attend, you really missed out on some beautiful classical music. In all honesty, I don’t know too much about classical music, which makes it all the more impressive that I really enjoyed myself.

The music was complex but emotional, with soft mellow tunes, bright and lively melodies and at times, furious and frantic playing. The intensity of the performers was what really surprised me. One of the violinists, Lucy Russell, kept rocking her chair back as she got into some of the more intense solos. She alternated between absolutely attacking her violin and coaxing warm, mellow melodies out of it.

“Ghosts,” composed my Jackson Hill, was definitely my favorite song of the night. Haunting and dark, the name was very appropriate. It conjured up images of graveyards and, big surprise, ghosts. It was intense, yet absolutely beautiful. And of course, the playing was executed perfectly. I wish that all the songs had descriptive names like that, instead of “Quartet in C Major, Op. 33 No. 3.” That song was also gorgeous, but I really did prefer the more modern idea of putting a name on the imagery evoked by the songs.

Alan George, the viola player, broke the silence during a brief interlude to address the audience. He was soft-spoken but hilarious. He lightened the mood after the darker “Ghosts,” and also explained the absence of one of their usual musicians. University Orchestra Director Christopher Para injured his hand, so they were not able to play their favorite piece by Tchaikovsky. They had to change the song basically last minute to another one. I found this particularly interesting because despite the change, the performance was still enchanting.

The performance was also very intimate, yet the sound was still rich and almost booming. During the intermission, the musicians even came out into the audience and chatted. It seemed as though they had quite a few old friends there already. Before the performance, the group had even invited anyone who wanted to join them at the Lewisburg Hotel afterwards to do. Seeing such talented musicians give a brilliant performance, while behaving in such a low-key and gracious manner made the concert even more special.

Even though I have never really listened to classical music before, I had a memorable time at the performance, and definitely plan on attending some others. I highly encourage everyone to do so as well, you won’t be disappointed.

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