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Chamber Music Marathon

Music review
by Kevin T. McEneaney
Sat Apr 29th, 2017

Emily Munstedt and JongSun Woo

At Bard’s Lázlo Z. Bitó Building the annual Chamber Music Marathon Concert ran from noon to 9 pm. In the past some professors have played with students, yet this year the faculty deemed the students were accomplished enough to do it all on their own.  And they were. I was only able to cover the first four hours, which was sheer delight.

Hannie Xie and ChaoJun Yang on piano performed Mozart’s Violin Sonata I E minor, K. 304. They captured the naïve social innocence of the first movement morphing into troubled self-examination, as well as the incipient disillusionment of the concluding minuet.  

Quintet in B minor for Clarinet and Strings, Op. 115 by Brahms followed. They played with delicious unity as the interactive blend of the violins, played by Xinran Li and Tristan Flores, noticeably melded with Joseph Burke’s viola with finesse.

A quintet of players offered genial comic relief with Kenji Buch’s Ralph’s Old Records. Flutist Bridget Bertoldi explained that this homage to swing music came about from Buch deciding to listen to his father’s favorite old 78 rpms and create a memorial for his father. The five movements swung witty, mischievous, and amusing—sometimes evoking Hoagy Carmichael or Spike Jones as they swung in classical fashion. Here Caitlin Beare on clarinet was outstanding while Domantas Karalius laid down that rhythmic swing (that few classical pianists can do) on piano.

Sergei Rachmaninov’s Vocalise, (arranged by Jascha Heifetz and Mstislav Rostropovich for piano and cello) was played by Adam Szokolay and Christopher Beroes-Haigis on cello, the cello substituting for a soprano or tenor (in this case) with cello leading, offered mellow delight. Both performers played superbly in sync. Beroes-Haigis was sensuous and melancholy.

Emily Munstedt on cello and JongSun Woo on piano confidently attacked Beethoven’s Sonata no. 3 for cello and piano in A major, Op. 69. To the backdrop of polished, effortless grace on piano, the cello plunged into memorable dramatic resonance. Dedicated to Beethoven’s youthful bachelor friend, their friendship disintegrated when they both courted two sisters and Herr Gleichenstein scored a marriage, while Beethoven was spurned by the other sister just before he turned twenty-eight.

A fusillade of four trombones followed in Suite for Four Trombones in five short movements by Gordon Jacob. After the introverted seriousness of Beethoven, this offered an extroverted romp with a happy fugue finale.