By Christina Mulligan
I am not one to listen to classical music, so when I went to the Emerson String Quartet I did not know what to expect. The place was packed. The crowd was much older, and the room was silent.
The Quartet played at Stony Brook University’s Recital Hall in the Staller Center on Thursday, Oct. 20 at 8p.m. The group was made up of four players: two violins, a viola and a cello.
When I opened my program, I noticed that there were only three songs and thought the concert would go by quickly. I was wrong. Each song took up to 30 minutes to play.
The first song was Quartet in D Major by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. It was made up of four different sections: allegretto, andante, menuetto; allegretto and another allegretto. I was rather impressed with this–it seemed upbeat and also challenging. The speed at which the players’ hands were moving to create the music was astounding. In the program it was described: “Nowhere is it more clear that Mozart was able to separate his troubled physical and emotional condition from the spiritual and musical side of his life than in the melodic, optimistic D Major Quartet.” Now, I am not exactly sure that was clear to me in the piece, but I was impressed with the string playing.
I thought the first song would set the tone for the rest of the show, but unfortunately I was wrong. I was not impressed with the second song as much as I was with the first. The performance by the Emerson String Quartet was flawless and amazing still, but I did not agree with the song choice. It was String Quartet No. 5, by Pierre Jalbert. I understand why the quartet would pick this song–it was specifically written for them to play. It was meant to give a feeling of being in a strange or unexplored land, and it absolutely did, but I did not particularly want to be in that land.
Finally, the Quartet finished with Ludwig van Beethoven’s piece, String Quartet in B Flat Major, Op. 130. It was extremely long, but somewhat good. It went from a serene beginning to a lively, overwhelmingly rhythmic approach.
All in all I thought the players were fantastic, but the music and the melodies were all over the place. I would have liked consistency–not jumping from one extreme to another.
The audience was a little dull. I understand they were an older crowd and it was a string concert, but seriously some of them were asleep the entire time. At first, I thought one audience member had their eyes closed to enjoy the music, but their guest kept hitting them to wake them up. I think that is just rude, but if they want to spend all that money to sleep in a chair then go ahead.
When the Emerson String Quartet comes back to the university I probably would recommend people to go just because the group really has incredible talent, but don’t expect to find me in the audience.