Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Bargemusic - Brahms, Haydn, Beethoven, Scarlatti & Mozart - 12/06/15

Brahms: Intermezzo, Op. 119, No.2 – Andantino un poco
Haydn: Sonata in E-Flat Major, Hob. 52
Beethoven: String Trio in G Major, Op. 9, No. 1
Scarlatti: Sonata in A Minor, K. 54, L. 241
Mozart: Piano Quartet No. 1 in G Minor, K. 478
Andrew Gonzalez: Viola
Coleman Itzkoff: Cello
Michael Kimmelman: Piano
Mark Peskanov: Violin

More often than not my spontaneous decisions have actually had fortunate outcomes, and that proved to be true again this past weekend, when I decided that after a super busy week in the office I needed a change of scenery and some live music. That’s pretty much how on Sunday I got off the island and headed for Bargemusic in Dumbo, which has fast become a favorite playground for tourists (eagerly gathering at Fulton Ferry Landing to diligently snap gazillions of pictures of the admittedly spectacular Lower Manhattan skyline and occasionally get ripped off at Grimaldi’s) and hipsters (eagerly filling up the Brooklyn Roasting Company to nonchalantly sip over-priced drinks while busily surfing their de rigueur Apple laptops in the studiously gritty space). But it was a lovely fall afternoon and I got to enjoy a quick, semi-impromptu and very fun reunion with my friend Amy, so life was good.
It got even better when I reached Bargemusic, the wonderfully intimate concert venue that offers a terrific view on the above-mentioned spectacular Lower Manhattan skyline while gently – and not so gently – swaying on the East River, and my spontaneous decision was serendipitously rewarded by a third row seat. If my environment was relatively unfamiliar territory (I had been there exactly once before), the program, on the other hand, boasted the crème de la crème of classical Viennese composers with no less than Haydn, Beethoven and Mozart. The line-up du jour comprised chamber music veterans with decidedly impressive resumes and, as I was about to find out, the skills to match. And as an added bonus, a sunset was scheduled too. Bingo!

After a bright Andantino un poco from Brahms’s Intermezzo, Op. 119, No. 2, piano man Michael Kimmelman effortlessly shifted gears and moved on to Haydn’s much more substantial Sonata in E-Flat Major, Hob. 52. As performed with inspired mastery by Kimmelman, the endlessly complex, large-scale work unfolded with grandeur and vitality, and plenty of whimsical sparkles too, which made the ever-evolving journey both momentous and light-hearted.
Beethoven’s highly colorful String Trio in G Major, Op. 9, No. 1 was up next and immensely benefitted from the glowing sounds generated by violinist Mark Peskanov, violist Andrew Gonzalez and cellist Coleman Itzkoff. Written when Beethoven had not even reached his thirties yet, the first trio of his Opus 9 magnificently bursts with lyricism, wit and subtlety, qualities that the three musicians brought out with vigor and precision.
After intermission, Michael Kimmelman was back with another little gem for solo piano in Scarlatti’s Sonata in A Minor, K. 54, L. 241, before being joined by the three string instrumentalists for Mozart’s beautifully woven Piano Quartet No. 1 in G Minor, K. 478. In true Mozart fashion, the composition is impeccably structured, and throughout the entire work the strings get to play richly expressive music while the piano ingeniously appears either as a guest star or a team player. As daylight had turned to nighttime and the Lower Manhattan skyline had slowly lit up in the background, the four musicians delighted the packed audience with a truly detailed, informed and engaging performance of it, which eventually got everybody off the boat and back on terra firma with genuinely uplifted spirits.

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