This past Saturday, Oct. 27, marked the return of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center’s residency at the Drew University Concert Hall with a concert titled: the Kreutzer Collection. The Chamber Music Society (CMS) is a collection of chamber musicians who travel across the country to give some of the best chamber music concerts that you will ever be able to hear. The society’s musical directors, David Finckel and Wu Han, are both residents of Madison. Part of the reason that CMS has come to Drew every year since the opening of the Concert Hall is due to the concert hall acoustics. When the hall opened, Finckel, a world renowned cellist, gave a recital as part of the opening celebrations and fell in love with the space. In fact Finckel and CMS loved Drew’s Concert Hall so much that their home at Lincoln Center, Alice Tully Hall, was redesigned by the same architects who designed the hall at Drew!
The performance featured pieces that were all related to the French revolutionist and famous violinist, Rodolphe Kreutzer. Many composers have written technically challenging and demanding pieces either for Kreutzer, or with him in mind. As a testament to this, CMS brought along several musicians, all of who had never performed at Drew and were excited to perform for the audience. The quartet that performed, The Calidore Quartet, came from the society’s educational program that looks for the top chamber musicians from conservatories all across the country. Each member of the quartet studied under the Emerson Quartet, where they first formed during their schooling and have continued to play alongside one another since 2010. One of the interesting things was just how much they communicated during their performance. Each of the musicians were constantly looking at each others bow movements and placements in a manner that not only demonstrated a clear and evident mastery of their instruments, but also of the entire score and the pieces that they were performing.
COURTESY OF LILLIAN FINCKEL
In addition to the quartet, CMS also brought along Juho Pohjonen, a pianist from Finland, and solo violinist Angelo Xiang Yu. Each of them had their own featured piece. Pohjonen performed Sergei Prokofiev’s Sarcasms which had several distinct movements that each had challenging passages which he navigated with ease. Xiang Yu performed Caprice No. 35 by Kreutzer. While short, this caprice was very challenging and incredibly fast. Yet just like Pohjonen, Xiang Yu performed the piece with ease. They then joined each other on stage for Beethoven’s Sonata in A major, also known as “Kreutzer.” This demanding 36 minute long piece featured many beautiful interactions between the musicians and left the audience stunned at the end which was evident by the standing ovation.
CMS put on a simply stunning performance of chamber music this past Saturday. You will not want to miss the continuation of their 2018-2019 residency at Drew University when it continues in February and concludes in April.