We are here to encourage the development of gifted young singers and to stimulate the growth of New York City's invaluable chamber opera companies. But we will not neglect the Metropolitan Opera either. Get ready for bouquets and brickbats.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


Tomoko Kanamaru and Elmira Darvarova
"Brahms and Friends" caught our eye and the music captured our ears.   All of the composers on the program knew Brahms personally and were also engaged with him musically.  Three of them were previously unknown to us, a condition begging to be remedied.  In a swirl of black tulle and iridescent sparkles violinist Elmira Darvarova and pianist Tomoko Kanamaru swept onto the stage along with horn player Howard Wall who was dressed rather more conservatively.

Most impressive was an 1874 "Sonata for violin and piano" by Amanda Maier who died way too young of tuberculosis, the plague of that particular epoch.  The Allegro offered a lucid exposition of some delicate and memorable themes.  The Andantino was replete with singing vocal lines, while the final movement had an almost gypsy flavor, propulsive without sacrificing the composer's gift for melodic invention.  Ms. Darvarova's violin and Ms. Kanamaru's piano blended beautifully.  These are two supremely gifted artists.

Brahms' "Sonata for violin and piano in D minor, No.3 Op. 108" was likewise given a splendid reading.  We were particularly taken with the pensive Adagio which gave the violin an opportunity to sing and trill.  The poignant third movement was marked by heart-tugging minor thirds, at times legato and at other times staccato.  The passionate final movement left us weak in the knees.

We also loved the sweetly melodic program opener, the 1887 "Abendlied Op. 150" by Joseph Rheinberger, originally composed for organ and violin.  In this arrangement by Ralph Lockwood which saw its New York premiere last night, the horn and piano substituted for the organ.  The three instruments were quite well balanced, which was not to be the case in some later selections.  In Brahm's "Scherzo Sonatensatz" originally written for violin and piano, the horn completely overwhelmed the piano and the results sounded coarse.  Perhaps that was due to the horn facing the audience and the lid of the piano being nearly closed.  Moreover, the horn was misbehaving as horns sometimes do.  Similarly, "In Schumann's "Fantasiestücke Op.73," the clarinet part was taken by the horn to disappointing effect.

More successful was Robert Kahn's 1923 "Serenade Op.73", blissfully untouched by serialism and 12-tone nonsense; we were free to enjoy the soulful long-lined melodies which alternated with rapid passages that reminded us of rushing to get somewhere important.

We wondered about the scholarship involved in unearthing these relatively unknown pieces and wondered further how much glorious music of the 19th c. has yet to be unearthed and shared with the chamber music audience.  Many thanks to the New York Chamber Music Festival for this program.

(c) meche kroop

No comments:

Post a Comment