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Concert at the Lehman Recital Hall: The Lark Quartet and Molly Morkorski Report


From classical to chromatic and traditional musical ideas

The Lehman Recital Hall hosted a concert by the Lark Quartet with Molly Morkorski on December 4th, 2013 (Webern, Copland and Brahms). This is a cheerful modern performance venue at Lehman College of the City University of New York. It has the advantage of current acoustical design (Lehman Center).

The event featured a variety of music. The program ranged from the solidly classical to examples from the innovators of chromatic music. The performers were skilled and enthusiastic. The audience was appreciative and respectful of the pieces and the group’s efforts. The audience doubtless benefitted from the explanations, although they were a bit difficult to understand.

The first piece was by Anton Webern, who was born in the 1800s but lived and worked into the 1900s (Academic Decathlon). The Six Bagatelles were written in 1911-1913 (Lehman College Recital Hall). The name, Bagatelles, means a ‘trifle’ or something not serious (Academic Decathlon).

They show the influence of experimentation with atonality. This means that traditional intervals, such as thirds and fifths are often replaced by unexpected intervals using all of the notes in the chromatic scale. This uses all the notes on the piano, not just the 8-note traditional scale.

There is no obvious melody. However, the music was not painful to hear. The instruments made sounds that were unexpected. In a movie, these sounds might have been used for special effects. They involved the musicians plucking and strumming the strings in ways that must have surprised audiences in 1913. The first movement or bagatelle, was marked massig, meaning slowly, and it was the most moving (MusicTheory).

The next piece was Two Works for String Quartet by Aaron Copland. This was far more melodic and quite haunting. However, it was much more atonal than the more familiar music of Copland, such as Appalachian Spring. Such advanced music was a surprise from a composer whom many in the audience probably associate upbeat ballet music.

Despite the atonality, Two Works for String Quartet managed to resolve into something that the ear could interpret as melody, or at least a repetition of a theme that eventually began to seem inevitable. This piece was well received, although the somewhat confused audience clapped between movements.

The performers were gracious about this mistake. The second movement included a few notes that almost sounded in error, but this seems to have been part of the composition. This piece was actually quite memorable, in spite of not being hummable.

The third piece was the most accessible. Brahms was easy to listen to and easy to love. The Brahms Piano Quintet in F Minor, Opus 34 is actually somewhat familiar. It is played on the radio sometimes. It is completely classical and very melodic, or at least, it makes the ear believe that there is a melody there.

The piece is very emotional, with a great deal of variation in tempo, volume, and intensity over the course of the work. The inclusion of the piano made it a richer sound. Whereas in the Webern, the variety of sounds that the composer draws from the instruments is astonishing, in the Brahms, it is the variety of melodic effects that is amazing. There are several themes and several different ways that these themes are expressed (Rodda).

The music is not programmatic. Nonetheless, it invites the listener to make up a story in their heads to accompany the rise and fall and resolution of the piece, especially the march tempo section. Perhaps it is unsophisticated to say so, but this was music that one could listen to over and over again with joy.

This was a challenging set of pieces to hear, and the Brahms was by far the easiest to enjoy and begin to imagine understanding. The introduction of seriously atonal music that was nonetheless more or less pleasurable to listen to was most enlightening. This concert made this listener want to hear more of Brahms, and even, perhaps, Webern and Copland.

Works Cited

Academic Decathlon. . 2013. Web.

. Lehman Center for the Performing Arts. 2013. Lehman College of the City College of New York. Web.

Lehman College Recital Hall. “The Lark Quartet and Molly Morkorski.” Concert Program. New York, 4 December 2013. Print.

MusicTheory. . 2013. Web.

Rodda, Richard. . 2004. Web.

The Lark Quartet and Molly Mokorski. By Anton Webern, Aaron Copland and Johannes Brahms. Perf. The Lark Quartet and Molly Mokorski. Lehman Recital Hall. 4 December 2013. Live Performance.

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IvyPanda. 2019. "Concert at the Lehman Recital Hall: The Lark Quartet and Molly Morkorski." August 9, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/concert-at-the-lehman-recital-hall-the-lark-quartet-and-molly-morkorski/.

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IvyPanda. (2019) 'Concert at the Lehman Recital Hall: The Lark Quartet and Molly Morkorski'. 9 August.

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