The Alexander String Quartet returns with guest
Published: Wednesday, May 2, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, May 1, 2012 23:05
The Alexander String Quartet graced the stage during the Aaron Silberman Concert series last year - and they returned this year with the addition of a new pianist, the talented Joyce Yang. Playing the music of Johannes Brahms, the quartet, along with their leading lady, took the stage by storm.
“It was unbelievable playing with Joyce,” said Frederick Lifsitz, one of the violinists from the quartet. “We played with her for the first time a few years ago. From the minute we sat down and played together, we played for a couple of hours and we didn’t have to rehearse much.”
The Alexander String Quartet was formed a little over 30 years ago in New York City, and in 1982 became the first string quartet to win the Concert Artists Guild Competition. The quartet plays in various concert halls throughout the United States and Europe including Lincoln Center, the 92nd Street Y and the Metropolitan Museum in New York.
In 2006, they were awarded the Presidential Medals by Baruch College for their support of the Arts Education programs in the school for the past two decades. Yang has also contributed some knowledge to the scholars of Baruch.
“Joyce is so generous with the students,” said Lifsitz. “She joined us last year too. The students had some questions for us that she answered in a beautiful way and the students really appreciated it. They realized what they were getting, they would have to pay $65 at Carnegie Hall to hear what they did today.”
The show began with the song Intermezzo in A Major, op. 118, no. 2, which was arranged by Zakarias Grafilo, another violinist in the quartet, from the original for solo piano. With delicately transitioned crescendos and a romantic energy, the song made the crowd’s emotions travel from high to low, all within minutes. The next section, Quintet for Piano and Strings in F Minor, op. 34, took the audience for a pleasant ride. Allegro non trope was the song that first introduced Yang to the stage.
It was an excellent addition, in which it was possible to feel the dialogue between the strings and the piano. With dramatic fade ins and fade outs, it almost sounded like the piano was asking a question and the strings were reprimanding in return.
In a beautifully arranged harmonized argument, this piece left audience members at the edge of their seats. The finale ended with Poco sostenuto - Allegro non trope.
This portion of the show sounded like a chase, where the piano at times sounded like it was running away. It was very powerful, even bone chilling, when everyone was playing at once. The playful yet serious tone that drifted into the air left the crowd in suspense.
Overall, the show was not only a great experience but also a free opportunity to see a group of talented individuals perform together with such chemistry.
Yang’s stage presence stood out. Known for her “million volt stage presence,” she felt every note and played every character role, by constantly raising her eyebrows and constantly changing facial expressions. Every musician made it look almost effortless.