Fitzwilliam String Quartet Concludes 2013 Residency and Concert Series


Starting an annual residency in 1978 until 1986 and thus continual since 1998, the Fitzwilliam String Quartet, whose members Lucy Russell (violin,) Marcus Barcham-Stevens (violin,) Alan George (viola,) and Heather Tauch (cello) are based across the pond, completed this year’s residency with an absolutely smashing performance Sunday, February 17th in the Natalie Rooke Davis Recital Hall in the Siegfried Weis Music Building on campus.

If you haven’t heard of them, then get on their website ASAP, and listen to what classical string music should sound like. Even if you don’t “like” listening to classical music, you can’t help but be awed by the extreme ability and talent that this group demonstrates. During the second set, Quartet No. 3, Op. 94 composed by Benjamin Britten, an English 20th-century contemporary composer, I can almost guarantee that I may have been the only person in the audience who enjoyed it, being amongst the entire population of senior citizens and a few of my musical peers.

can guarantee, however, that everyone in the audience enjoyed the recital as a whole because it had something to offer all types of classical music lovers.

The first piece performed was Beethoven's Sextet in E flat Op. 81b for two horns and strings with guest artists Dr. William Kenny a Professor of Music and chair if the Department of Music at Bucknell and Kent Larmee, both playing French horn. The synchronicity of mind, as well as emotional and passionate expression, was exemplary.

Following the Britten work and an intermission, came Johannes Brahms’s Piano Quintet in F minor, Op. 43 with guest pianist Dr. Barry Hannigan, a professor of music here at Bucknell. Dr. Hannigan has had a fantastic relationship with the Fitzwilliam since their first performanceat Bucknell.

When asked about the performance, Barry Hannigan said,“I loved performing with the quartet very much.  They are excellent musicians, and wonderful colleagues...friendly, expressive, intense, sensitive.... you couldn't ask for more.

I have known the quartet since September of 1978, which was my first performance at Bucknell.   It was their first performance here as well!  So we go back a long way.  We've played many pieces together over the year.  It's a relationship that I treasure.

And to play the Brahms Quintet with them was special.  It's one of the best chamber pieces ever written, and we were returning to it after performing it here at Bucknell about 15 years ago.  I am lucky to have such a great opportunity.

I hope very much they can continue to come to Bucknell.  Their history with the school is unique and wonderful, and they bring so much to the community.”

The piece, albeit longer than the first half of the recital plus an intermission, was exquisitely performed in the hall. The range of repertoire performed in the recital also shows that within the realm of classical music, there is so much diversity in sound and technique. The group has even recorded other types of music such as their jazz recording with saxophonist Uwe Steinmetz and violinist Mads Tolling and chamber music by South African composer Michael Blake.

It was a very fitting conclusion to the recital and this year’s residency. While the whole performance didn't consist of the typical classical music some of us are used to, like the Beethoven, it was a nice medium that everyone could relate to, a goal that the Fitzwilliam String Quartet strives to fulfill in every performance.

You can check out the Fitzwilliam String Quartet at their website:

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(From right: Heather Tauch, Lucy Russell, Alan George, Marcus Barcham-Stevens)