Classical quartet plays Hotchkiss Library

The Cassatt String Quartet

Matthew Kreta

Classical quartet plays Hotchkiss Library

On Sunday, March 3, The Guild at The Hotchkiss Library hosted the final concert of a series in collaboration with Music Mountain featuring the Cassatt String Quartet.

Comprised of Muneko Otani and Jennifer Lechnower on violin, Gwen Krosnick on cello and Emily Bradengurg on viola, the New York City-based quartet has performed at venues across the globe and featured for multiple recording labels. The program contained three pieces and lasted for approximately an hour.

The afternoon of music began with String Quartet No. 1 in G Major, composed by Florence Price in 1929. This work consisted of two movements, the first of which was light and beautiful and the second of which leaned into more ominous and uncertain tones. In the first movement, long, drawn-out harmonies would be interspersed with quick and upbeat portions. These changes in tempo, though surprising to the ear when they occurred, had a continual and consistent flow to them that made this beginning of the program memorable.

The quartet literally leaned quite heavily into this piece, swaying in time with the music as it explored its rich harmony. The second movement switched to a minor tonality, evoking a sound not unlike mystery film scores. It captured an almost eerie air before resolving beautifully into the familiar ground from the first movement, ending the piece on a hopeful note.

The second piece of the program was both vastly intriguing as well as the night’s greatest showcase of the quartet’s incredible talent. This work, “Song of the Ch’in,” written by Chinese American composer Zhou Long in 1982, was made to imitate that of the zither. This complex piece was constantly changing tempo, meter and volume while employing a vast array of stringed instrumental techniques.

Heavy and slow sliding notes, pizzicato and plucking, even striking the wood of the instruments as a sort of percussion was utilized to bring this work together. The majority of the composition had at least three players plucking their strings, while the fourth either also plucked along or played a more melodic line.

The final piece was Beethoven’s famous String Quartet in F Major, Opus 18 No. 1. This popular string quartet is one that many would recognize from the first few notes alone. When performing pieces such as this, which the audience is typically more than familiar with, what the ensemble brings forward on its own merit beyond the brilliance of the composition itself.

Cassatt not only played the familiar notes beautifully, but clearly enjoyed and connected with the music on a level beyond making sure everything was in place. This clear enthusiasm and joy of performing helped make this particular performance shine.

While this was the final concert of The Hotchkiss Library’s mini concert series, more concerts like it are in the works for the future. If you would like to assist in underwriting next year’s concerts, contact Gretchen Hachmeister at ghachmeister@hotchkisslibrary.org.

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