Positive Response for Innisfree +

Photo by David Khorassani.

Local music group Innisfree + breathed new life into cherished classics at their most recent concert on campus.

The group consists of violinist Carole Cowan, cellist Susan Seligman and pianist Sylvia Buccelli, who founded the group 15 years ago. At their concert on Tuesday, March 29, the founding trio was joined by violist Rachel Evans and baritone voice professor Kent Smith, hence the plus sign in Innisfree +. The group performed a range of classical pieces, some for the violin and viola, some for the piano, violin, viola and cello and others with Smith’s vocals. About 45 guests assembled to enjoy an evening of classical tunes.

Innisfree +’s standout selections were a group of four songs by French composer Gabriel Fauré. Cowan gave a snippet of background information about the composer’s life: according to Cowan, Fauré was in the middle of a rough breakup with his girlfriend when he composed “Quartet in C minor, Opus 15.”

“I think you’ll be able to hear the angst and tempestuousness,” Cowan said, garnering a laugh from the crowd.

The quartet gave new meaning to the term “breakup songs.” “Allegro molto moderato” was a heavy, dramatic tour-de-force of anger and angst. The string instrumentals truly conveyed Fauré’s emotional distress, and the chaotic sound of the composition made for a unique and engaging listening experience. The piece was one of the longest from Fauré’s quartet. “Scherzo. Allegro vivo” felt like a journey with its fast tempo and repeated verses of string plucking. “Adagio” started on a somber note, conveying pain and sadness, presumably of Fauré’s heartbreak. Cowan and Seligman’s violin and cello parts were exceptionally beautiful. The last song, “Allegro molto,” was another up-tempo piece. Buccelli’s piano part was frantic and chaotic, and the song seemed to channel sentiments of anxiety and desperation.

Innisfree + also played a selction of Irish and Scottish songs composed by Ludwig van Beethoven, which spotlighted Smith’s impressive vocal chops. Additionally, Cowan and Evans performed Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s “String Duo in Bb for Violin and Viola, KV 424,” which won the duo a massive applause. The pieces obviously required great technical skill and attention to detail — something Cowan and Evans both possess, since both hold musical arts degrees from Yale University and Juilliard School, respectively.

Second-year music major Becca Blanco loved the concert. She attended the event because Smith, her voice professor, informed her class about the show. She appreciated Cowan’s interlude of backstory for the quartet, since it gave greater meaning to Fauré’s piece, she said.

“I loved the violin and viola duo,” Blanco said.

Jack Wilson, a first-year adolescent education major with a concentration in social studies, also enjoyed the group’s performance. He favored the Fauré quartet and could tell the musicians of Innisfree + were exceptionally talented.