The Jupiter String Quartet, joined by Chungliang Al Huang, provide a unique interpretation of late 19th and early 20th century classics.
Written by Janarth Dheenadhayalan
I was intrigued to see how the Jupiter String Quartet and Chungliang Al Huang would incorporate dance with the likes of Stravinsky, Debussy, and Piazzolla. While I was familiar with all of the pieces that were on the rep, I was uncertain of how the performance would change my perception of these pieces.
It seemed like this would be a first for many of the people who were attending this performance. The classical music world is often thought of as tradition bound, so deviating from the norms is considered risky. An atmosphere of curiosity and wonder filled the atrium as people drifted into the waiting area.
Everyone sat in eager anticipation for the performance that followed. And my goodness, it was stunning.
The Schafer was easily my favorite part of the performance. I particularly enjoyed seeing Huang establish a motif and then “pass it on” to one of the other performers. In this way, it feels like Huang’s dance interpretation of Schafer culminated in a performance that simultaneously adheres to the strict rules of classical music while simultaneously providing a unique dimension that is otherwise absent from everyday performances.
Huang strayed from and returned to the tonic. This cycle of movement allowed me to stay grounded in the performance and observe precisely how each theme developed and matured through the climax of the piece.
The Piazzolla that followed was an interesting change of pace. It felt much simpler and easier to understand than the Stravinsky and Schafer. I believe that including this at the end allows the listener to relax and focus on something that is inherently simpler, yet also incredibly nuanced.
And of course, the wonderful encore that ensued placed an emphasis on the musicians in a way that I did not expect. One by one, each musician joined the dancers on stage mimicking the movement that Huang would do to signal the end of one piece and the beginning of the next. To me, this signifies the closure of the performance as a whole, and the start of something new.
People were bustling with joy after the performance. Everyone was raving about this unique interpretation of music and the blending of East Asian performance pieces and European music.
After the performance I looked through the program and noticed that the audience was not supposed to clap between pieces. The performance as a while was to be seen as one piece, which is why there was no intermission. This is a mistake that I will try to not repeat in the future.
Overall, I thought the performance was incredible. I was originally hesitant because I typically do not understand dance at the same level that I understand classical music. However, Huang’s interpretation allowed for everyone in the audience to get something out of the performance.