Jason D. Cox
Bridges Hall of Music in Claremont hosted a faculty recital featuring two highly accomplished artists Saturday: composer and musician Andrew McIntosh, who performed with a violin and a viola, and professor Gayle Blankenburg who performed on the piano.
Upon entering the elegant music hall, attendees were struck by the awesome sight of the Hill Memorial Organ, the intricate design of which helps one to appreciate what beauty this musical gem must have been a part of over the last 96 years.
Between 45 and 50 of the creaky, wooden seats in the music hall were filled that evening.
“It’s obvious that both McIntosh and Blankenburg take their craft very seriously,” said Cal Poly Pomona senior nutrition major Ashley Jungkman, “It shows in their performance of the compositions.”
“Andrew McIntosh’s performance made me a fan,” senior English major at Whittier College Nick Dante said.
“He had complete domination of the auditorium when he brought Franz Schubert’s Fantasy to life.”
The duets between the piano and the violin seemed to vary between one echoing the other and a sort of call-and-response play between the two instruments with their unique sounds.
The duo’s performance of the third movement of the first piece, Sergei Prokofiev’s Sonata No. 1 in F Minor, Op. 80, was a prime example of these two sounds echoing within and without each other.
The interaction between the piano and violin resulted in a musical synthesis as the instruments intertwined, weaving a tapestry of peaceful serenity.
As the song progressed, a pensive sense of tragedy was expressed through a series of minor chords.
The first and fourth movements also held this theme of darkness, putting across a deathly sound, with violin elements that conjure images to mind both cold and lonely. The fourth movement of this second piece especially showcased the McIntosh’s skills.
A portion of this performance allowed him something similar to a solo wherein he proceeded to wring out every possible note from each draw of his bow across the strings of the violin.
This showed more play between the two performers as opposed to the synthesis in the previous movements.
“It’s just my personal preference, but you can never go wrong with Prokofiev, “Santa Cruz Political science major Becca Pate. “It was depressing and frightening in the way it should be.”
McIntosh provided the audience with a solo viola performance in the form of György Ligeti’s Sonata for solo viola.
The piece starts off strong by moving up the scale, with a feeling of potential and excitement. Its shimmering sound evokes images like the start of a journey at sea, something the mariners would have experienced so many years ago.
“An interesting thing about this piece is that it uses an unusual scale with one-quarter tones and utilizes the harmonic scale,” McIntosh said.
Following the solo, Blankenburg returned to the stage to accompany McIntosh for the final two pieces.
The first of these was Twine Suite from Samuel Vriezen’s Two Suites. Easily the shortest of the four pieces, the three movements blended together seamlessly as the players played up and down the musical scales.
The grand finale to the faculty recital was Franz Schubert’s Fantasy in C Major; a piece of music in which one can live a dozen lifetimes.
It started out with very liquid, flowing chords, as is characteristic of some other Schubert pieces. The bubbling brook of violin echoing piano soon gave way to calming, drawn out notes.
The piece, while lengthy, was very well played and an impressive way for the performers to end their concert.
Jason D. Cox can be reached at email@example.com.