Schubert: 2 marches caractéristiques in C Major, D. 968b
Rieko Aizawa: Piano
Andrea Lam: Piano
Schubert: Notturno in E-Flat Major, Op. 148, D. 897
Poulenc: Improvisation No. 12 (1941), "Hommage à Schubert"
Rieko Aizawa: Piano
Kurtag: Hommage à Schubert from Jatekok (Games)
Andrea Lam: Piano
Piano Trio in E-Flat Major, D. 929
Schubert: String Quintet in C Major, D. 956
Emily Bruskin: Violin
Julia Bruskin: Cello
Jesse Mills: Violin
Raman: Ramakrishnan: Cello
Jessica Thompson: Viola
After a wonderful Vienna-flavored chamber music concert in Dumbo's Bargemusic on Sunday afternoon, I decided to keep my momentum going and headed to another intimate classical music experience, which happened to be blissfully much closer to home this time, on Monday evening.
The unstoppable Music Mondays series had scheduled an appealing Schubert feast, which included not only some of his works but also works inspired by him, that was to be performed by a bunch of young and incredibly talented musicians in their usual home of the Upper West Side's Advent Lutheran Church. Apparently a lot of music lovers felt the irresistible program’s pull too because the small venue was literally bursting at the seams with excited people, including my friend Ruth, long before starting time.
As if the general mood had not been electric enough, Schubert's 2 marches caractéristiques started the concert on a highly spirited and strongly virtuosic note. Impeccably channeling the piece’s irrepressible nature, Rieko Aizawa and Andrea Lam resolutely stormed through the four-hand composition with boundless energy and razor-sharp precision, having apparently as much fun playing it as we had listening to it.
Then the light-heartedness that had quickly filled up the church went down a notch with the beautifully atmospheric Notturno in E-Flat Major, which the Claremont Trio handled with much care and dedication. The gorgeously hushed melodic lines unfolded with flawless ease in what seemed like suspended time, and it almost felt like heavens had descended on earth.
Then we took a small detour with a short and a very short tributes to the German master from 19th century France and 20th century Hungary, by respectively Francis Poulenc and Gyorgy Kurtag, which clearly proved that Schubert's influence has never stopped transcending periods and borders.
The Horszowski Trio was next for a beautifully lush interpretation of Schubert's expansive Piano Trio in E-Flat Major, D. 929. The main theme of the second movement may be familiar to even non-classical music aficionados due to its many appearances in pop culture, but the fact is, the entire work is so dauntingly complex in its wide-ranging harmonies and textures that it routinely keep audiences totally enthralled despite clocking in at about 45 minutes. It sure did on Monday night.
The Music Mondays people having smartly kept the most popular work for last, we had to wait until after intermission to enjoy one of chamber music's most undisputed masterpieces – and a personal favorite of mine – in Schubert's String Quintet in C Major. Written a couple of months before the composer's death, one can almost sense that the sick young man threw everything he had and then some into the dazzling quintet, which is as remarkable for its pure inventiveness as for its immediate appeal. Boldly unconventional, highly melodic and deeply emotional, the "Cello Quintet" deserves to played by the best and brightest, and it certainly sounded like we had them on Monday night as the five musicians on the stage were expertly working their way through the immense work while keeping it constantly fresh and fun all the way to the very end. It could not get better than that.