Haydn would be proud

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Les Violons du Roy perform Haydn with pianist Marc-André at Williams Center. [Photo by Willem Ytsma ‘16]

Adetutu Fagbenle

Les Violons du Roy performs as part of the Chamber Music Series

Wednesday’s performance, as part of the Chamber Music Series, was as memorable a night of classical music as any. Les Violons du Roy, a chamber orchestra based in Québec, was the featured group for this year’s Dr. Aaron S. Litwak ‘42 Concert. They have won the prestigious Juno Award for Classical Album of the Year twice, and are truly world-class artists.

They played a number of beautiful pieces for the lucky listeners in the room, amongst them Mozart’s “Concert-Rondo in A Major.” Performed with virtuoso pianist Marc-André Hamelin, the orchestra dazzled true to form. Amongst the pieces played were Haydn’s Symphony No. 45 in F-sharp minor” titled “Farewell,” a favorite of mine.

In an 18th-century performance of the piece, Haydn directed members of each section to stop playing during the final adagio, and to leave one by one. Similarly, during Wednesday’s final adagio in “Farewell,” each musician left his or her seat, sometimes one by one, and other times in clusters. They filtered out, and off the stage until, finally, only two violinists remained—a fitting tribute to Haydn and his original musicians.

If you’ve never heard a beautiful piece of classical music played live, you are missing out. If you did not attend Wednesday’s event, you definitely missed out. I must admit that I have a peculiar manner of hearing. My ears only perk up when the piece played is melancholy. The bittersweet notes draw me in, and somehow serve as a mirror to my own life’s sad ‘notes’. Every note played Wednesday, whether sad or happy, was played well.

The musicians, of course, were all in sync. After the first slow piece, the third piece of the night, Les Violons du Roy played an uptempo and triumphant number. I saw a number of heads bobbing to the beat. Who ever said classical music is boring?

As is the case for most if not all conductors, Hamelin could be heard exhaling now and again in rhythm with the piece being played. After the first four or so pieces, the musicians tuned their instruments, and the magic began again. The intermission 40 minutes into the night was a rude interruption—but necessary for those with small bladders, like me—to the string of harmonious pieces played.

A number of my companions slept off beside me and I could not help but laugh, seeing their closed eyes. At other times, I was unsure of when I was meant to applaud, and simply copied the seemingly-seasoned connoisseurs in front of me. That is to say, one only applauds at certain times, and one should know such a fact already. But these are matters that concern the audience.

I could find no fault with the performers, and such a statement is testament to their enviable skills that are somehow poetic without spoken or written words.

What a night, what a night…

Dr. Aaron S. Litwak ’42 Concert

Williams Center for the Arts

Presenter:

Chamber Music Series