The Sam Houston State University Kolonneh String Quartet took the stage and dazzled their audience this past Monday at the James & Nancy Gaertner Performing Arts Center.
Though a few of the pieces could be described as having a sinister sound, the angelic notes created by a bow stroking the violin strings or fingers pressing down keys of the piano were anything but sinister.
The performance started off with a piano quartet playing four different pieces by Robert Schumann, and continued after intermission with four more pieces, also by Schumann, played by a piano quintet.
From the very first piece in the performance, the audience was captivated by an exhilarating duel of the piano versus the violin, viola and cello. The opening chord progression was played by pianist Josu De Solaun and was mimicked in unison by violinist Javier Pinell, violist Dawson White and cellist Daniel Saenz.
Throughout the entire first piece, and even a few later pieces, the subtle mimicking of instruments by others alluded to a battle that may be occurring between them. However, these duels were interrupted by sequences in which the musicians would come together in a unified timbre, and were perfectly timed so that the audience stayed enthralled and fascinated.
Even for those who are not familiar with classical music, it was obvious that this performance was beautifully played and perfectly executed. With flawless technique, exciting diversity and simply beautiful interweaving of harmonies and melodies, members of the audience were enchanted and ready to hear more even after the last note came to a close.
From beginning to end, the quartet kept its audience wondering what was in store for them next. With each new piece came a new mood, whether it was the curiously cheerful and whimsical tones of Scherzo: Molto vivace or the dramatically romantic chords of Adante cantabile.
Just as exciting as the variety of this performance was the way the musicians played off of each other and worked together. In several of the pieces, each of the instruments entered in with the same part, but were slightly delayed as to create a layering and buildup of crescendo-like sound.
The cello was also a vital part in achieving subtle dramatic tones, particularly for pieces that were more somber than others.
Contrary to the quartet’s variety, the quintet came in the second half of the show and played in a more consistent mood of upbeat and liveliness. Most of these pieces had a strong violin presence from violinist Naomi Gjevre, which was accompanied by very fast piano, viola and cello parts, staying true to the joyous mood they set for themselves.
The Kolonneh String Quartet and Quintet knew just how to begin and end the show with wondrously vivacious pieces to keep the audience engaged with everything in between.