Chamber musicians perform at University

Commentary by Elizabeth Gardner

Scranton was fortunate to have the talented Andrew Gonzalez, a violist, back on campus Saturday to perform this time with some of his gifted friends: Christine Wu, pianist; Yurie Mitsuhashi, violinist; and Jiyoung Lee, cellist. Gonzalez, both a chamber musician and soloist, is currently studying at Juilliard for his Master of Science degree. Mitsuhashi has performed in numerous concert venues and is presently working on her Master of Science degree at the Yale School of Music. Lee, a soloist and chamber musician, is currently attending Juilliard in the Artist Diploma Program. Finally, Wu, who began piano when she was five years old, is also attending Juilliard to obtain her master’s degree. The program took place at the Houlihan McLean Center on Saturday night, where many students and Scranton citizens gathered to listen to the sounds of these passionate musicians.

The performance began with a piece entitled “Sinfonia Concertane K. 364” composed by W.A. Mozart in 1779. It featured Gonzalez, Yurie and Wu. The piece began with Wu strongly pressing the keys on the piano while Gonzalez and Mitshuashi played their instruments, synchronizing perfectly. The violin and viola began to take turns almost mirroring one another, while the tempo remained fast overall. The piece had a very happy but eerie tone at times and finished strong with the sounds of the viola and violin, followed by the piano.

Franz Schubert composed the next piece in 1824 entitled “Arpeggione Sonata D. 821.” It featured Gonzalez and Wu and included three movements. The first movement, “Allegro Moderato,” began gracefully with the piano, and the viola followed and ended with Gonzalez plucking his viola. The second movement, “Adagio,” began with the piano, while Gonzalez plucked his viola. It was a very deep and slow- sounding movement. The piano and viola started to die out and the viola finished strongly. The last movement, “Allegretto,” started very fast by implementing slower sustained notes with slurring and faster, louder sounds. The movement ended with a strong soft finish and with the viola in sync with the piano.

The third piece, entitled “Fantasy Pieces Op. 73,” was composed by Robert Shumann in 1849 and included Lee and Wu. The piece started with the first movement, “Zart und mit Ausdruck,” meaning “tender with expression.” The cellist played deep- sounding notes at a slow pace and played flawlessly without music in front of her. The movement ended with the piano and cello playing and slowing down. The next movement, “Lebhaft, leicht,” meaning “lively, light” began with the piano and soon the cello. The cello took pauses while the piano remained playing. The cello slowly ended and the piano followed suit. The last movement, “Rasch und mit Feuer,” meaning “quick and with fire,” began with the cello playing very fast notes with the piano. The beautiful pair of the cello and piano slurred their notes but the pace increased. The movement ended powerfully, with emotion from both players.

The last piece, entitled “Piano Quartet No. 2 Op. 87,” composed by Antonin Dvorak in 1889, featured all players. The first movement, “Allegro con Fuoco,” was fairly fast, with a very strong start and beautiful harmonic ending. The second movement, “Lento,” began slowly, with the violin and viola plucking as the cello began with the melody and the piano followed. There was a lot of mirroring between the strings and the piano, and the movement ended quietly but harmoniously. The third movement, “Allegro Moderato, grazioso,” began with a strong start from all players, with a dance-like feel. The movement ended quietly with the cello, but then increased in loudness with the other strings. The last movement, “allegro ma non troppo,” began strong and in sync. The movement ended getting slower and slower with then had a very strong but beautiful ending of all the instruments.

At the end of the performance, I was able to talk to the players and could see a passion in their eyes for music. I asked how long they had practiced for this performance, considering how wonderfully they had played, Gonzalez said, “We only rehearsed twice.”

I was shocked because the pieces all sounded beautiful and perfect. I also asked Gonzalez why they chose the pieces for this performance. He explained that the pieces went in chronological order from 1779 to 1889, and he wanted to take the audience through this time period with music. These talented musicians wholly showed their passion in their performance on Saturday night and hopefully will be back next year to share more of their talent.

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