A beautifully crisp January morning with Levon Chilingirian and Jubilee Quartet welcomed the Chamber Music Academy and our 6 chamber groups into the New Year. The theme of the week seemed to be focused around leading. Being able to play together is one of the basic requirements of playing music in any size of ensemble but in a string quartet, where there is no-one standing at the front with a baton or sitting at the front of a section, everyone is equally responsible for playing together. Even the best string quartets who have been playing together for decades need to work on playing together by constantly knowing at which moment which member is leading.
Julia, violinist of the Jubilee, focused on this idea of leading with the quartet playing the Schubert A Minor. After finding who has the most important line, the quartet worked on allowing that person to lead – this proved particularly hard for the middle parts who often rely on the 1st violin or the cello to lead!
In the upstairs corridor the cellist of the Jubilee Quartet, Lauren, went one step further with this idea with the youngest of our quartet groups playing Haydn Op.54 No.2. They each took turns to lead the same section and copied how each person played. This gave everyone a bit more confidence to lead and also showed just how different each player’s interpretations of the same music can be. There won’t necessarily be a wrong or a right way, but discussions will definitely need to be made!
Before the Schumann Piano Quintet even began playing, Levon gave them some crucial practical advice! By rearranging the way they were all sat so that they were physically closer to the piano, he said that they would be immediately be able to play more together. Schumann’s crazy side comes out in his 3rd movement with vastly contrasting sections. In order to create sense out of the madness, they focused on the balance of each part.
CMA was also treated to a performance of the first 2 movements of Janáček No.2 by the Jubilee Quartet. It was great to hear a piece that is less well known by the academy members by a composer that no-one has had the pleasure of tackling yet! It has a very different sound from the Haydn or Mozart quartets with so much arguing and agreeing going on between the 4 different voices. Despite the piece sometimes sounding aggressive, particularly in the use of ponticello, the music is actually about love. It is names Intermittent Letters after the 700 letters that Janáček wrote to a woman he loved who never wrote a single one back… It’s great to see a live performance expand the musical knowledge of the academy members and inspire them to get listening and playing more types of music! Thank-you Tereza, Julia, Joe & Lauren 🙂