On Sunday, Nov. 14, the Regina Symphony Orchestra performed their second installment of six in the Government House Concert Series: Basically Beethoven. The Government House Concert Series highlights different styles and composers with each show, and features the RSO Chamber Players, who are the superlative members of the orchestra.
On Sunday they demonstrated exactly why they are the core of the RSO by delivering flawless performances of Beethoven’s “String Quartet Op. 59 No. 1” and Borodin’s “String Quartet No. 2.” The set list may have only consisted of two pieces, with four movements in each, but there was no shortage of material. The first movement clocked in at over forty minutes (Beethoven’s longest string quartet) and the second came in around the twenty-five minute mark. Despite the length of the pieces, their ability to engage the audience with many individually intricate parts and motifs combined to create an array of interesting melodies and harmonies.
The level of musicianship was very high, and the group maintained tempo without a conductor, tugging and pulling at the rhythms to make the pieces less rigid, more flexible, and much more enjoyable. Each musician displayed their virtuosity in the intense technicality of the music, flowing melodies, and perfect accompanying harmonies. Despite the complexity of the music, the players delivered their parts without so much as a hiccup or stall.
While the performance only featured four musicians and no auxiliary amplification, the quartet – consisting of two violinists, a violist, and a cellist – managed to produce an ample sound that reverberated magnificently throughout the room. The performance was very dynamic which made it difficult not to be drawn in and moved by the music. The small venue helped in aiding the performance as well. The audience was only a few metres in front of the performers, giving the show a feeling of closeness and intimacy. The proximity of the audience allowed for a more personal performance as the performers could make the music very bold and brash, but then quite dulcet with lightly-plucked pizzicato notes.
Listening to over an hour’s worth of instrumental music may seem dull, but the RSO proves that it is not. The Chamber Quartet was enjoyable, entertaining, and gave unblemished performances of two lengthy and challenging pieces of music.
If the thought of listening to music that has no auto-tune or click track frightens you, the RSO’s next performance, Classics for Skeptics, features the entire orchestra and a multitude of well-known composers (Brahms, Tchaikovsky, and Dvorak to name a few). If you’re unsure of classical music, this is going to be a good show to check out – it’s a sort of classical music’s “greatest hits,” and probably the RSO’s most accessible performance for those who normally don’t listen to classical music. For tickets or more information, the RSO box office can be reached at 791-6395 or at http://www.reginasymphony.com.