On Tuesday, the Brentano String Quartet, Yale School of Music’s ensemble-in-residence, presented a well-attended program titled “Lamentations” in Morse Recital Hall. The approximately 90-minute performance comprised seven pieces centering on themes of mourning and grief and featured a diverse range of composers from different periods and styles.
The program — continuing the Oneppo Chamber Music Series — highlighted pieces of cathartic expression in songs ranging from lamenting elegies to operatic arias. The evening opened with selections from works including those by 16th-century Italian composer Carlo Gesualdo, 17th-century English composer Henry Purcell, 18th-century Austrian composer Franz Joseph Haydn and 19th-century Belgian composer Guillaume Lekeu. The program also featured elegies by 20th-century Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich and contemporary American composer Elliott Carter.
Members of the audience, who ranged from undergraduate students to members of the New Haven community, enjoyed an evening of dynamic chamber music.
“I was most impressed at the amount of focus, concentration and mental stamina it must take to get through that long of a program of laments and sad songs,” said audience member Nate Huvard MUS ’19. “There’s so much weight involved in those kinds of pieces that to maintain the emotional integrity through the entire program was remarkable. The whole time I was locked into it.”
Other audience members echoed Huvard’s sentiments.
“I thought the performance was stunning… lamenting was such a simple, primal and visceral concept to explore,” said graduate student Maxwell Foster MUS ’19. “My favorite piece was the Gesualdo — the way that [the players] were able to match textures was amazing.”
The Gesualdo piece, originally written for voices, was later transcribed for string quartet.
Assistant to the Associate Dean of Yale School of Music Rachel Glodo ’13 also found the Gesualdo particularly compelling.
“[The performance] was really surprising,” Glodo said. “They did some unusual articulations that were very exciting and gave renewed breath into what might otherwise be a rehashing of vocal repertoire for strings.”
The second half of the performance featured 20th-century Hungarian composer Béla Bartók’s Quartet No. 2.
Composed between 1915 and 1917 in Hungary, the piece is one of Bartók’s six string quartets. It served as a dramatic and sorrowful conclusion to the Brentano String Quartet’s program.
“I was surprised that it was so short,” said audience member Anteo Fabris MUS ’19 of the program. “I could’ve sat there twice as long… it was just beautiful.”
Students from outside the School of Music also enjoyed the performance.
School of Public Health student Tanya Yajnik SPH ’22 said her favorite part of the performance was Bartók’s Quartet.
“I thought it was really amazing how easily they move between the four instruments,” Yajnik said. “It was so emotional… I thought the lamenting theme was interesting and important.”
The next concert in the Oneppo Chamber Music series will take place on Feb. 26.
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