The Hyperion String Quartet earned an audience of eager ears, filling Sheldon Hall’s Ballroom Wednesday night.
The first piece that was presented was, Piano Quintet in G Minor, Op. 57, by Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975).
Shostakovich begins with heightened energy, trading off drawn out diatonic phrases with short staccato melodies. Although it produced an effect of liveliness, the musical term of the first musical movement, lento, is defined as slowly, referring to the tempo.
Short silenced breaks occurr between each movement, demanding no applause as the piece shifts mood, tone and dynamics. Shostakovich’s second movement, Fugue: Adagio, expelled a cyclic layering of melodies, with each musician contributing his or her personal layer. In a popular sense this can be compared to a round, such as “Row row row your boat.” The term adagio yet again defines the tempo as being slow and stately; a slight rise compared to before.
The following movement was Scherzo. This term refers to the third movement of a larger piece, often replacing the minuet in a string quartet. The Hyperion blended tonality, bursting upon a mild hump of the piece, slightly holding back for an evident climax to come.
The fourth movement, Intermezzo (Lento), pulled the dynamic back to a slower pace with soft inflections. It expressed a sentiment of gentle fluttering, falling slowly, like a feather. One got the sense of a softness before the peak of a storm.
Heightened energy returned in the last movement, Finale: Allegretto. A moderately fast-tempo climax was reached. The piece, executed flawlessly, received a grand response from the crowded audience before a brief intermission.
Formed in 1999 at the Eastman School of Music, the quartet has performed from New York to Japan, making television and radio appearances. These seasoned string players have collaborated on projects with Skidmore College’s Dance Department, the faculty at the College of Saint Rose in Albany and award winning composers, Paul Moravec and Richard Danielpour. They have been a part of prestigious programs such as the Juilliard String Quartet seminar and the Emerson Quartet International Chamber Music Workshop. The list goes on. Just as musically proficient, the group is widely prolific.
The second piece performed was, Piano Quintet in F Minor, by Cesar Franck (1822-1890). This work consists of three movements: Molto Moderato, Lento and Allegro non troppo. The different movements describe how the piece took directions from a moderate pace to considerably slowing the dynamic down, finally achieving a striking release of powerful intentions.
Franck incorporates an element of dissonance and jarring rhythms in this piece. His use of chromatics contribute to this idea. Chromatics often use notes not usually heard in the range of a major scale. This can create a sound foreign to the ear and disjointing the natural flow of harmony. His piece causes tension and buildup, producing and anticipating a final epic display.
Each of the two musical compositions performed Wednesday night lasted an hour in length. The Hyperion Quintet proved their stamina and precision as they tackled these landmark works faultlessly. Well received by the audience, the quintet received a standing ovation with rumbling applause.
The group consists of Amanda Brin (violin), Jamecyn Morey (violin), Simon Ertz (viola) and Jonathan Brin on cello. Wednesday night’s performance included special guest, Robert Auler, a piano professor entering his seventh year at Oswego State. The group filled out as a quintet, and hearing piano quintets is a rarity.