Alumnus returns with Yale chamber orchestra

Alumnus Louis Lohraseb ‘13 returned to Geneseo to play piano with a chamber orchestra at the Doty Recital Hall on Saturday Feb. 22, sponsored by Geneseo’s department of music and the Office of the President. Lohraseb was an assistant conductor for the Geneseo Symphony Orchestra, and is now studying in a graduate program at the Yale School of Music.

The chamber orchestra was composed of Lohraseb’s peers from Yale. Members included pianist Lohraseb, cellist Yan Levionnois, violist Isabella Mensz and violinist Mélanie Clapiès. The concert’s program was composed of three songs: two by Johannes Brahms and one by Ludwig van Beethoven.

The orchestra began with Brahms’ Sonata for Viola in F minor, Op. 120, no. 1. This made for a slow beginning, as the piece features a quieter piano and viola duet. The thick and warm timbre of the viola made the piece’s slow and centered melody very beautiful.

As the violin and piano often stole the show, Sonata for Viola added a good variety to this concert, and Lohraseb and Mensz played it masterfully.

Beethoven’s Piano Trio in G major, Op. 1, no. 2 was my favorite portion of the concert despite the fact that the viola had not part in it. The Piano Trio is a delightful trading of melodic lead between the violin and piano held together by the cello and has a moody restraint and release dynamic pattern that was awe-inspiring to see performed. Lohraseb’s piano talent was evident in Beethoven’s trio.

Brahms’ Piano Quartet no. 2 in A minor, Op. 26 seemed to be the most complex piece of the evening. From the perspective of someone with no study in bowed instruments, the different parts appeared to share only a tempo and key signature, with utter and yet delectable chaos in every other sense.

After watching the chamber orchestra play these pieces to apparent technical perfection, it felt as though I could pick up a bowed instrument and recreate the same sounds. The cliché may be true: To convey that illusion of ease to an audience is a measure of mastery.

The fact that the concert was a chamber orchestra, as opposed to a symphony or philharmonic, allowed for a display of each musician’s skill and technicality. With only one of each instrument, all played a lead part and had full control of their tonal range.