Archive for the ‘Diary’ Category

CHAMBERFEST ‘07 : by Stanley Fefferman. An Illustrated Diary. Page 4

Monday, August 13th, 2007

Tuesday, July 24, 8 pm.
Moscow String Quartet

Beethoven: “String Quartet 5 in A major, opus 18, no.5.”

The introduction to the ‘Allegro’ opens with individualistic bold strokes and a flowing, natural, birdsong-like melody. This is followed by a more socially solid ensemble passage — the music of humanity — strongly led by first violinist Eugenia Alikhanova.

The development section projects a sense of structure, balance of masses, largeness and light: there is also palpable tenderness. The prevailing tone is of an ideal social harmony that is roomy and allows for experiment and invention.

The 2nd movement is marked ‘Menuetto’.The players emanate a feminine and light-footed energy:finely textured harmonic lines somewhat shaded by bolder, darkish strokes, out of which more potent elements announce themselves and are integrated into the social whole: the ensemble breathes like the bellows of an accordion. The sense of dance, the ‘Menuetto’ is recalled in the recapitualation, with a return to the feminine lightness, but more firmly grounded.

The 3rd movement is Andante cantabile. The first violinist smiles, as in the photograph, anticipating pleasure. The slow, lyrical passage of two balanced phrases is repeated. There is a sense of peace, not generalized, but with a strong sense of identity. Somehow, the word ‘paradisal’ comes to mind.

The development section proceeds by counterpoint—suggesting an intellectual discussion that is lighthearted but requiring concentration to follow: the people are lifted up by it. Peace flows in the return to the paradisal theme containing a sense of brainpower as well as birdsong.

The movement concludes with some amazingly deep and rich sounds, beginning with the march of a band on parade moving through the town to the beat of the bass drums and trombones. In the coda, this outburst of unrestrained display is restated in a politer way, as an elegant conversation.

The ‘Finale’ is brought in by a conversation between viola and first violin. It is quick and detailed, like coffeehouse buzz about the latest things. In the midst of the excitement is something calm and enduring. The conclusion is a soft landing, like a surprise withdrawal of resources that leaves a refreshing space.

Galina Kokhanovskaia……. Olga Ogranovich ……..Tatiana Kokhanovskaia


…….(Please click on any of these images to see an enlarged version)……

Beethoven. String Quartet# 8 in E minor, opus 59, no. 2.

After the initial pair of forceful chords comes a lyrical motif that is repeated, variously voiced, developed, and is abruptly cut off by a passage that is serious and deep. This passage possesses the sound of a narrative that is dramatic with possibly buried in it a tragic episode that becomes the subject of comment by a chorus of voices.

The conversation seems to indicate a struggle, as of an individual voice moving towards some momentous public declaration. The chorus seems to offer a sympathetic ear to the individual, who does not respond, but continues to send out signals of alarm. One hears a ‘Promethean’ sense developing in a pastoral setting, as if an epochal revolution were being born in a rural village.

The pastoral or Arcadian space expands to ‘Olympian’ and ‘Titan’ proportions. Here Beethoven prefigures the celestial halls of Wagner, and the locomotive energy as of an engine pulling the carriage in which rides old world grace. The movement closes peacefully, keeping the lid on.

The ‘Adagio begins with a slow Shostakovitchian theme: pastoral, but tense underneath: peace pregnant with conflict. The solo voice of the first violin is repetitive, monotonous and tense; the remaining strings, in unison chorus are soothing and absorbent. As if mollified, the solo first violin relaxes into a lyrical utterance and rejoins the unison harmony. The solo viola’s rich voice continues to soothe, encouraging the first violin to lyricise solo in rich orchestral tones that verge on a state of ecstasy.

The ecstatic flow is breached by a dissonance, an old woe, and the dark toned cello develops a recurrent argumentative motif. The response of the ensemble is to absorb the cello’s dissonant concert into a rising harmonic accompaniment of gentle, sympathetic voices. The first violin retakes the lead to restate the order of things and brings the movement to a generous space of relaxation and rest.

The third movement, ‘Allegretto’ is an interlude, brief and light. In the service of this lightness, all the players demonstrate a touch of bow on string that is magically buoyant and strong as feathers.

The ‘Finale’ marked ‘Presto’ repeats thematic elements of the first movement in a mood that is optimistic and carefree as a ride on a trotter. Not a trace of discord. The spirit of youthfulness develops cohesion and force.

CHAMBERFEST ‘07 : by Stanley Fefferman. An Illustrated Diary. Page 3

Sunday, August 12th, 2007

Monday, July 23, 12 pm.
Cecilia String Quartet

This young, female ensemble generates a lot of excitement, partly because their programme typically includes drama built on extreme contrasts of mood, tempo, and dynamics, and partly because they are willing to get emotionally involved with the dramatic turns of the music.

The ‘Allegro’ of Brahms’s “String Quartet in C minor, opus 51, no.1” is passionate, complex, nervous, interestingly orchestrated, especially towards the end where passion modulates to tenderness.

Despite seeming a bit spaced at this noon performance, the Cecilias showed impeccable timing. They elicited from their instruments rich tones that were sensitive and nuanced. Notable in the ‘Adagio’ was the work of violin and cello laying on deft harmonic strokes across the melodic flow, brooding, ruminative, rhapsodic. After a shift in the third movement to a happier mood, dancey, light and humorous, the ‘Finale’, referring thematically back to the earlier movements, opens with a tragic chord and the movement proceeds darkly to its conclusion.

Shostakovich’s 9th Quartet E-flat major, opus 117, meanders into focus like a gathering of snakes in the grass. It is by turns tortured, airy, enigmatic, solemn, harsh, bouncy, melancholy, and also manages to rock like Heavy Metal. Prominent in the ‘Scherzo’ is a passage that recalls the galloping theme from the “William Tell Overture” going like a heart in mild tachycardia.

What a change of mood in the programme, from depressed civilility of Brahms to the spooky, paranoid, hyperpolitical view of life in the Stalinist USSR. I doubt that in India this low energy vibration would be considered appropriate for the noon hour.

Nonetheless, The Cecilias generated a standing ovation and were rewarded further with an announcement that they had won the Galaxie Young Performers Prize.

Monday, July 23, 2 pm.
Louis Lortie and Helene Mercier
Two Pianos: Grieg and Schumann

Schumann, “Six Etudes in the Form of a Canon for Two Pianos, opus 56.”

Mercier sits to the right of Lortie, working the lower register accompaniment. The piece opens in a mood of archly romantic nostalgia, characteristic of Schumann: sounds like it was picked up by Lloyd Weber in “Memories”. Much sighing and melodic dialogue, sometimes happy and animated, subsiding into a slower, darker mode. Beautifully crafted. The odd time Mercier gets a melodic solo, her touch is refreshingly light.

A livelier mood ensues — romantic pastoral with a martial air. It is Schumann’s, “Pictures of the East, for Four Hands, opus 66.” Livelier still is Grieg’s “Norwegian Dances for Four Hands, opus 35.” It begins in D minor, passes through A major, G major, D major. Lots of notes running at a furious gallop morphing into a Keystone Cop Car Chase sequence. Great fun, contrasting a heavy-footed march with the fleet footed chase through a slightly dissonant space.

“Grieg’s Peer Gynt Suite, No.1, for Four Hands, opus 23”, raises the question of the pleasure of the familiar. What makes a piece a dear old chestnut that is “carried alive into the heart” whenever you hear it instead of reducing one to yawns and tears of boredom?

Monday, July 23, 5 pm.
Jasper Wood, violin, and David Jalbert, piano.

David Jalbert plays a new Dinuk Wijeratne composition, “Colour Study in Rupak Taal.” The piece has a 7 beat ground-based theme repeated in every bar like a raga, with a melody on top. It is a raw and anguished piece that seems to rack Jalbert with its intensity.

Jasper Wood follows with Eugene Ysaye’s, “Violin Sonata No.2 in A minor, opus 27, no.2.” Wood adopts a fighter’s stance and begins the 1st movement–‘Prelude, Obsession Poco Vivace’– at an explosively fast virtuosic tempo. The middle movements are a complaint, tender and quiet, followed by a touching ‘Sarabande’ in which Wood develops a bagpipish lament with drone, reminding us how beautiful are the vulnerable and wounded among us, when you can get into the details. The piece ends with a forceful scraping of the bow as the music fades into the ghostly realm.

Monday, July 23, 8 pm.
Angela Hewitt, piano

Angela Hewitt plays the nine parts of Jean-Philippe Rameau’s (1683-1764)“Suite in E minor”. Each of the nine consists of a lovely melody entwined by elaborate traceries of sound.

She smiles as she plays with superb articulation and force, bringing to vividness detail through contrast. She is regal. It becomes evident that this is not a mere performance but the full sharing of a totally private musical universe that Miss Hewitt is offering to her audience. A kind of miracle.

Her Schumann “Piano Sonata No.1 in F-sharp minor, opus 11” is definitive. It is the music of restoration. She sketches the composer’s longing for intimacy, his immersion in nostalgic memory of glory and pain. The bliss of love is no sooner described, then it fades. Sadness follows, and the resolve to recapture it arises. There is the assault on the gates of memory to restore the life that was, and as that hope fades, comes the inevitable subsidence into melancholy and grief.

The evening concludes as the triumph of Miss Hewitt’s supreme ability to appreciate her composers and bring them to a brilliant level of expression.

CHAMBERFEST ‘07 : by Stanley Fefferman. An Illustrated Diary. Page 2

Thursday, August 9th, 2007

Sunday, July 22, 8 pm.
Yegor Dyachkov, cello, Jean Saulnier, piano

Prokofiev: Adagio and Waltz from the Ballet “Cinderella”. Transcribed by Rostropovitch.

Adagio: Brooding cello’s melancholy grows turbulent,
breaks and fades to tenderness.

Waltz: Piano is slow. Introverted cello moans for hint of the dance latent in an aria of imagined gaiety. Ends in thunder.

Schubert: Sonata for Cello and Piano in A minor, D.821.

Sparkley piano, sprightly cello;
piano unfurls anthemic theme
lovely as a banner.

Body and face of Saulnier move into the music
where good spirits and drama vie,
ending in unison.

Adagio: piano is introverted, formal.
Cello chimes melodic song stately and balanced
Saulnier leans into the songlikeness.

They finish it allegretto, a folk dance pizzicato.

Britten Sonata for Cello and Piano in C major opus 65

Dialogo allegro is piano scales that rise and fall, traversed by short, deft strokes of cello: twin ladders of the double helix terminate on a weird harmonic.

Scherzo is pizzicato of taut, tentative feet, scampering of rats and cats. Violent.

Elegia proceeds at a slow, even pace, like a state funeral.

Marcia is, oddly, lyrical. Plaintive, melancholy cello grows tense and agitated, alarmed as if menaced, is pacified by piano tenderly into a quiet dissonance until drama erupts in unison march that builds to shrill whisking sonics.

Moto perpetuo completes the question put in all but words, “What to make of a diminished thing?”

CHAMBERFEST ’07 : by Stanley Fefferman. An Illustrated Diary. Page 1

Tuesday, August 7th, 2007

Saturday, July 21, 8 pm

Angela Hewitt, piano
Daniel Mueller-Schott, cello

J.S. Bach, Gamba Sonata in D major, BWV 1028

The Bach begins “adagio”,
cello leading, piano an echo behind.

Angela’s smile is happy, her style is chirpy,
Daniel’s cello is sober, melodious, flexible.

She too turns serious, preserving a twinkle like starlight on dark waters
Mueller-Schott flows syrupy down to the lovely finale.

Their music is now smiling, cheery with dancing, anticipating pleasure.

Angela’s hands are serious and distinct,
each finger makes itself heard.

Beethoven, Sonata in G minor, opus 5, no. 2

Unison chord strikes, then tones pour arpeggios,
stark, light and dark:
Angela plays the drama,
Daniel etches the heartbreak,
the slow edge of tension where she braids a harmony.

They merge
in a passage with long pauses
where, in slow gradations, moods change,
separate voices fade into the music naturally,
re-emerge perky, shifting pace and mood, race like clouds
towards a horizon of strong surprise.

She is delicate, effortless and nuanced as water;
he is sexy, sliding, caramel rich.
Their blend of colours is intelligent.

Cesar Franck, Sonata in A major

Romantic phrases flowing with sentiment,
as from a couple consuming their doomed union.
She encapsulates his sound
rolling out waves of piano,
unfurling sonic coils in which he winds himself.
Their duo elaborates passion, stormy and ornate,

that quickens, unburdens itself
towards a staccato conclusion
optimistic despite lots of sweet pain

Their story is not Hollywood , or is it?