Storytelling and the Quartet Narrative

 

There are music lovers and then there are music lovers who will go out in negative-7 degree weather to see Southern Colorado’s premier string quartet. While the bone-chilling cold was outside, inside was Veronika String Quartet’s second program of the year, “How It All Began” at Ascension Church. As an homage to the origins of the four-piece format, VSQ played some of the earliest pieces written for four stringed instruments.

 Starting the program was String Quartet Op. 76, No. 3 in C major by F. J. Haydn. Known as “Emperor,” the piece in four movements begins with a quick and lively call and response that was soothing yet energetic with lovely interplay between the cello and the viola. The familiar sounding harmonic structure of the second movement was slower and more spiritual, while the rollicking violins in the third movement provided a decent contrast. The Finale: Presto concluded the selection in short but fulfilling fashion.

Guitar Quintet No. 4 in D major, more commonly known as “Fandango,” by Boccherini was the second selection. Colin McAllister, director of music at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs joined VSQ on classical guitar for this selection, and the results were amazing. Featuring the most impressive display of cello mastery I have ever seen, the three movements take the listener from a march-like Allegro to a staid Pastorale to the highlight of the first half, the Fandango. Castanets, glissando cello notes, and flamenco style guitar all came together to form a highly entertaining piece that was the closest thing to “jamming” I have seen from a classical quartet.

Beethoven’s String Quartet Op. 59 No. 3 in C major finished the program. This long, complex selection starts slowly but quickly picks up the pace as it constructs a musical puzzle. At first one seems lost in the notes, soon however the pieces come together and their precision is apparent. As only Beethoven could do, the hypnotizing melodies leave the listener in a trance until the dizzying, demanding and dramatic finale smacks the audience into disbelief. It truly must be heard, as words fail to do it justice.

Kudos VSQ!