Faculty performers take center stage at Doty Recital Hall

Revitalizing the halls that had been mainly vacant for three years, the Tremont String Quartet performed Jan. 31 in Geneseo’s newest performance space, the Doty Hall Recital Hall.Despite the unpleasant, skin-numbing and hair-freezing trudge uphill with which we’re all familiar, the trip to Doty is rendered one of staggering elegance upon entrance to the hall. The light wood finishes, smooth paneling and contemporary design emit a feeling of minimalistic radiance, as if your very presence in the halls demands that you waltz. The quartet included professors of music Richard Balkin and Laura Balkin on violin, Samantha Rodriguez on viola and James Kirkwood on cello. They performed pieces by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Johannes Brahms alongside guest artists Benjamin Magruder on viola and Chair of the Department of Music Jonathan Gonder on the piano. Doty’s Recital Hall houses a stage that beckons outward, enabling sound waves to amply spread in the audience’s direction. The show, presented by the department of music, blended the intricacies of classical music with the exciting untouched building. The first half of the evening consisted of the quartet and Magruder performing four works from Mozart’s String Quintet No. 4 in G minor, K. 516. “Allegro,” the first piece, was indeed a happy way to begin. The violinists became visibly more lively, however, during the second piece, “Menuetto: Allegretto.” They nodded and swayed with the fervor of their instruments, occasionally grinning in momentary triumph and pursing their lips in steadfast concentration. Following was “Adagio ma non troppo,” meaning slow but not too slow. It consisted of a noticeable switch-off between the deep, fuller notes of the cello and the ebullience of the violins. The quintet executed the final work “Adagio-Allegro” with the same vigor as the preceding pieces. You could hear the violinists’ exhales with the last note before a pause as well as their inhales as they began again. The quartet welcomed Gonder onto the stage after intermission. The music, four works selected from Brahms’ Piano Quintet in F minor, Op. 34, graced the air with a pleasant accompaniment of keys. “Allegro non troppo” permitted the piano to energetically impart its presence and periodically stand out with its own melody. The next two pieces, “Andante, un poco adagio” and “Scherzo: Allegro,” exhibited sustained mastery by the musicians. Regardless of the demanding changes in melody of the finale, “Poco sostenuto – Allegro non troppo – Presto, non troppo,” the musicians did not fail to stun with their prowess. By showing such a wide range of skill and the ability to adapt to substantial changes in pace, the quintet overshadowed previous pieces with the finale. Acting as a melodious harbinger of Doty Hall, the Tremont String Quartet marked the beginning of a new building, matching its grace with that of the very walls in which it played.