By Paulina Gajewski
Conservatory students delighted audience members with Afternoon Chamber Music on Thursday, Mar. 16 in the Don Buchwald Theater. The concert featured collective musical pieces that allowed musicians to work collaboratively. Coordinating the musical bliss was Brooklyn College Professor George Rothman, who has guest conducted throughout the Far East, Europe, South America, and the United States, as well as taught at universities across New York.
Chamber music is a specific form of classical music that is generally composed for a group of instruments, enabling them to fit into a chamber or a large room. Given the genre’s nature, the conservatory students had to learn how to play individually while also keeping tempo and rhythm with the rest of the instruments.
The show was set in motion by Matthew Garcia and Sasha Jamal with their violin duet. Their piece, “Two-Part Inventions,” was composed by J.S. Bach. The melody presented itself as a challenge with Garcia and Jamal engaged in a competitive duel, as their violins continuously participated in a seemingly back-and-forth conversation, transforming from shrill and impatient to low and muttering. Together through their tunes, they conjured images of a quarrel, such as that of siblings taking part in an argument or parents debating over dinner.
“The inventions were meant for the piano, yes, but we got to add our own feelings into it, and I learned a lot about chamber music through it,” Jamal told The Vanguard post-show, noting she and Garcia made the initially intended “solo musical experience” their own. “Matthew and I had to really learn how to listen to each other and connect in an almost telepathic way.”
The final melding of the two melodies makes for an impactful denouement of the piece, a resolution to the disputation.
The stage was next seized by a series of string instruments in a quartet performance by Fauré called “Piano Quartet No. 2 in G minor, op. 45: I. Allegro molto moderato.” This performance included Samuel Braiman on the violin, Jayda DeLeon Duran on the viola, Marybeth Castaño on the violoncello, and Yuxin Feng on the piano.
Feng’s grand piano was situated at the back of the stage, symbolic of the background melody it provided for the performance. Braiman and Duran were situated facing each other, with Castaño in between them and facing the audience. Feng stole the show with her quick pace and strong moments of intensity, providing a euphonious backdrop for the other three instruments. Each of the remaining three performers had their own moments to showcase their expertise. Duran, in particular, portrayed moments of sorrowful melody, moving the audience members with her slow and steady, yet packed movements. The instruments proved their skillful independence, though intermittently coming to periods of melded melody.
With a rearranging of the stage, four became two once again. The audience could feel the apprehension within the moments of silence as the musicians settled themselves onto the stage, like a deep breath longing for release. Closing the show was Ajin Kim on the violin and Maxwell Hinton playing piano in their performance of “Violin Sonata No. 2 in A major, ‘Meistersinger,’ op. 11: I. Allegro amabile” by Brahms.
These performances not only serve as a wonderful way to listen to live music but to also view the proficient technicalities in the physical movements of the musicians, as their hands knowingly glided up and down octaves. The smooth tune was punctuated by periods of musical urgency, keeping the audience members at the edges of their seats.
The show was originally meant to culminate with “Trio in G minor für Klarinette, Violine, and Klavier,” by Khachaturian, but due to unforeseen circumstances, this last piece was rescheduled for the next Afternoon Chamber Music show that will take place on May 4.