The Lindsayan String Quartet, completing a week of instruction and performance at Ball State, gave music lovers an evening of passionate, thoughtful, and entertaining chamber music Thursday night at Pruis Hall. The concert was presented as part of the ArtsABLE series, which promotes artists with disabilities.
The stage was unadorned with decoration, presenting the musicians against the sterile, white background of the hall's acoustical shell. The musical performance, however, gave more than enough drama and color, with the repertoire ranging from the period of Brahms and Beethoven to more discordant, twentieth-century composition.
Sound quality was pristine, even when sitting off-center in the auditorium. The quartet was surprisingly loud at times, even without any sort of sound reinforcement or amplification.
Chamber music, which typically involves only several musicians as opposed to a full orchestra, differs from other forms in that there is no conductor onstage. The Lindsayan musicians relied on visual communication within the group, coordinating their entrances by exaggerating the physical movements of their opening bowstrokes.
Beginning with a Beethoven work, String Quartet Op. 135 in F major, the quartet entered the stage to a Pruis audience of around half capacity. Cellist Jeffrey Noel Lastrapes introduced the piece by describing the final movement, which musically "asks" and "answers" a question--reportedly signifying the composer struggling to come to terms with his own illness and deafness.
Beethoven's sense of musical humor came into play during the work, which featured the musicians comically plucking a melody out on the strings after a high-intensity version of the same theme.
The second selection was contemporary composer Michael Albaugh's String Quartet No. 1, written in 1996. As with much twentieth-century music, the work involved dissonant musical intervals and unpredictable themes. The only downside to the quartet's concert might have been that the Albaugh piece might not have been appreciated by casual listeners of the classical genre.
After a brief intermission, the Lindsayan returned Brahms' String Quartet in G major, Op. 111. Ball State viola professor Dr. Harold Levin, who played with the quartet on a previous occasion, joined the group for the piece. More accesible than the previous selection, the five string musicians roared through the four-movement, stylistically diverse piece.
The quartet, with Levin, were treated with enthusiastic applause upon the conclusion of their performance, returning twice to the stage to bow and accept the audience's cheers.