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Pine Plains Memorial Hall Benefit Concert

The Jacques Thibaut trio with Eugenia Zukerman
by Stephen Kaye
Mon Jul 4th, 2016

 Music poured forth from the upper room of the Stissing House bringing gladness to the hearts of those who are devoted to the cause of turning the long abandoned Memorial Hall into a first rate concert venue.  It was a benefit concert arranged by Eugenia Zukerman, the famous flautist, who believes in the future of Memorial Hall.

The players were the Jacques Thibaud Trio who were joined by Ms. Zukerman in Mozart’s Flute Quartet in C Major.   They are three European players who, like Ms. Zukerman, are at home in the classical repertoire of Hayden, Mozart and Beethoven. Jack and Irene Banning who are heading up the Memorial Hall renovation were pleased at the turnout of some 90 supporters who attended this inaugural concert.   Memorial Hall (that adjoins the Stissing House) awaits an extensive renovation project.  According to Brian Keeler, they are aiming for a 2018-19 opening.

Burkhard Maiss, violinist, was at home as the lead player in Haydn’s Trio, Op 53, setting a lively pace, he makes sounds on the violin that are pleasing, which sounds simplistic, yet his sounds aren’t: they are precise, yet moving; he feels as he plays; he is into the music with which he is so familiar that it's like an old shoe; it fits and is comfortable.  That’s how the Haydn felt.

The Mozart flute quartet in C Major is one of three that were written on commission for an amateur.  It is not recorded whether the amateur for whom it was written ever played it or whether it was beyond her ability.  What we do know is that flautist Eugenia Zukerman played it with a fluid even voice that brings out the charm and melodic qualities of this piece.  It is recorded that Mozart was smitten by the charms of a young woman and those charms come out in the music.

The final piece, the Beethoven String Trio in G Major, is an ambitious piece that gives each of the three instruments individual voices.  The music is denser that that of his contemporaries who preceded this composition by a few years, showing Beethoven’s tendency to profound, complex, and intricate structure.  It was described as “brilliant” and “not dark” in Burkhard’s introduction.  I thought the colors less than brilliant.  At times they were clear, but sometimes confusing and blended.  The patterns led into mazes that were complex, but the music always brings you out into the sunlight after getting you lost.  It ends in a brief and spirited presto.  

We thank Ms. Zukerman for acting as music director for this lovely afternoon of fine music.  It provided an excellent send-off for Memorial Hall that will be truly memorial, if this standard of music excellence is maintained.