The audience at Music Mountain Sunday was treated to a concert that might have been entitled, “Music for a Summer Afternoon.” It could not have been more perfectly conceived or executed. It was also a concert of deep friendship; Richard
Goode’s intimacy with the music and his own ability of engaging his audience made us all feel part of his musical family.
Goode welcomed us with Mozart’s Sonata No. 8 in A Minor with a stroll through a Viennese garden of earthly delights; the flowers were in full bloom. Dancers with white dresses swished by fleetingly, doing pirouettes. The notes were all on their toes, not a heavy foot amongst them. It finished with a confection of pastry on the terrace.
Good played four movements from Janacek’s “On the Overgrown Path” a brief walk through a garden where an older man was reading to us children in a hushed voice; he described an evening setting, a blown-away leaf, a short dash down an alley, and then he told the children a convincing good night, all with a delicacy of notes, spare and soft.
We then heard 6 Klavierstucke Op 118 by Brahms, a late piece written for Clara Schumann who at that time was 73. There was something special Brahms wanted to express, and Goode expressed it with care, exuding tenderness and warmth. To think that a sentiment expressed that long ago could be repeated on a Sunday long after remains the magic of music.
After intermission Goode offered Six Preludes from Book Two by Debussy. Filled with shimmering light, we were transported to an imaginary world that included Puerta del Vino in Granada, a woodland with an exquisite dance of fairies whose feet barely touched the ground, a Scottish Highland moor, and a character who might have been Harpo Marx. We ended up with Ondines, or water nymphs who sang and danced and played to our utter delight. The concert ended with the lightest, gentlest playing of Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 31 that I ever heard, also the most optimistic. All the notes were lovingly displayed as youthful, joyous, and friendly; not one of them was bruised; there was a brief passage when they became unruly and darted about like wild children, but order was restored: at the end everyone, including all the notes, and the man who played them, were smiling.