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Concert Critique of the Jefferson Chamber Orchestra String Quartet Performance of Eine Kleine Nachtmusik by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

MUSC 101 12/16/2013

Concert Critique of the Jefferson Chamber Orchestra String Quartet The Jefferson Chamber Orchestra graciously accepted a request to perform for our Music Appreciation classroom on 12/09/13. A string quartet consisting o f two violins, a viola, and a cello played six pieces of music originally compos ed in the Baroque (Brandenburg Concerto No.2 by Bach), Classical (Eine Kleine Na chtmusik and Divertimento by Mozart), and Romantic periods (The Emperor Waltz by Strauss), respectively. The small classroom setting, with the performers no more than six feet f rom their audience, made the performance an intimate experience. Acoustically, t he wide room allowed for the pitch and dynamics of the instruments to perform at a seemingly optimal level, especially considering these were all instrumental p ieces to be played. The performers themselves, dressed in business casual attire , being young and relatively attractive made them more relatable as well. Howev er, the fact that the musicians were also students/employees at Thomas Jefferson University lowered my expectations considerably. With that being said, I was no t disappointed in the overall performance. The pace certainly seemed a bit slowe r than a professional orchestra, but that is to be expected considering these we re neither professional nor full-time musicians. The opening piece, Eine Kleine Nachtmusik by Mozart, set an ambitious tone for the rest of their performance. Mozart Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born in 1756 in Austria and quickly gained wide-spre ad fame and notoriety as a musical prodigy during the Classical period. (Melogra ni, 2008) Unlike any other composer in musical history, he wrote in all the music al genres of his day and excelled in every one. His taste, his command of form, and his range of expression have made him seem the most universal of all compose rs (Encyclopdia Britannica Inc., Wolfgang). He is arguably the most popular of the classical composers and his influence on Western art music is far-reaching. Mozart composed over 600 works including: 21 stage and opera works, 15 Masses, ov er 50 symphonies, 25 piano concertos, 12 violin concertos, 27 concert arias, 17 piano sonatas, 26 string quartets, and many other pieces (Solomon, Maynard. Mozar t: A Life). Mozart wrote Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, A Little Night Music in German, i n 1787 as a serenade performed by two violins, a viola, a cello, and a double ba ss. (Encyclopdia Britannica Inc., Eine kleine) The Jefferson Chamber Orchestra st ring quartet played the first movement of the serenade, which is in sonata-alleg ro form. Performance The quartet begins playing the extremely common and easily recognizable opening theme in unison. The ascending theme is loud and piercing, commanding th e attention of the audience. From there the theme transitions and there is a key modulation. Now the two violinists are playing off of one another while the vio la and the cello are doing the same with themselves. The 1st violinist grabs my attention as she is swaying, almost dancing along with the music while the other three performers remain relatively motionless except for their arms. The musici ans play similar ascending tones until reaching a crescendo that briefly pauses and completes the transition into the second theme. There is another key modulation as they enter the 2nd theme. It is more

relaxing and contrasts majorly with the opening theme. It is slower and almost d elicate in comparison to the fast-paced, aggressive pacing of the first. The ove rall tonal feel stays about the same as the piece moves onto the closing theme i n the same key. Repetition and counterpoint is rampant throughout this theme unt il the exposition ends. From there, the exposition repeats in its entirety from the beginning. Upon completing the repeat of the exposition the piece moves into the short development stage of the sonata, which plays variations of the previo us themes in what seems to be multiple variations of keys until slowly transitio ning to the recapitulation. Repetition is a common trend in this piece as the 1st theme is played on ce again, but the transition between the first and second theme does not modulat e this time around. The 2nd and closing theme remain in this key until reaching the end of the piece. The coda extends the closing theme with an ascending chord reminiscent of the opening of the 1st theme and ends strong with a deeper bass line that gives the performance a powerful finish.

REFERENCES "Eine kleine Nachtmusik." Encyclopaedia Britannica. Encyclopaedia Britannica Onl ine. Encyclopdia Britannica Inc., 2013. Web. Retrieved 12 Dec. 2013 from: <http://www. britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/1210597/Eine-kleine-Nachtmusik>. Melograni, Piero. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: A Biography. University of Chicago Pr ess, 2008 "Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart." Encyclopaedia Britannica. Encyclopaedia Britannica On line. Encyclopdia Britannica Inc., 2013. Web. Retrieved 10 Dec. 2013 from: <http: //www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/395455/Wolfgang-Amadeus-Mozart>.