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Bach and His Pupils entertain audience at UVM

Friday evening, April 11, I was at the University of Vermont Recital Hall for a performance by Harmonie Universelle, a Baroque string group directed by violinist Florian Deuter. Their program, entitled Bach and His Pupils, featured works by J.S. Bach, two of his sons Carl Philipp Emanuel and Wilhelm Friedemann and the eponymous Johann Gottlieb Goldberg. The program clearly illumined the changes of style from Bach p_ through his two sons and his pupil Goldberg. It is true that Bachs sons didnt achieve a great deal of acclaim simply because they were Bachs sons. They traveled prodigiously, unlike their father who stayed all of his life in three or four locations, and they were exposed to the musical compositional directions in the larger world. The youngest of the three pupils, Goldberg, didnt quite make it to 30 years of age. The program opened with some movements from The Art of Fugue, and they were meticulously played with a clear sound that made it eminently possible to follow the musical development of each movement. The surprise of the evening was a work not listed on the program, a quartet in C minor by Goldberg. It was far removed not only from his teachers work, but also from his own Sonata in C major for two violins and continuo. After intermission, the ensemble moved to the works of the sons of Bach, starting with C.P. E.s Triosonata Sangineus und Melancholicus in C minor for two violins and continuo. It was a very graphic dialogue between one imagines a young man and a young lady, the young lady being the melancholy one. It was a very charming work. The evening concluded with a suite in G minor by W.F. Two things were evident during the concert: (1) The group carefully distinguished the work of the pupils from the work of the teacher through amazing changes in the warmth and fullness of their playing; (2)Deuter is a real taskmaster, demanding absolutely perfect agreement in pitch, including a tuning process which prefaced every single piece of music played, and I noted that the other four performers sometimes almost shuddered under the all-seeing eye of the director (which is possibly the price to be paid for the production of such absolutely beautifully nuanced playing). Bravo to them! Shelburne Players unveil The Glass Menagerie The Shelburne Players opened a six-performance run of Tennessee Williams's timeless memory play, The Glass Menagerie, April 18 at 7:30 p.m. in the community room of City Hall. The production, directed by Donald Rowe, plays on both timelessness and timeliness, making us conscious that the play is a child of its times. Williams reminds us of the current events that are about to burst forth into war and destruction, yet he insists that the play is not a naturalistic play. In fact, Williams is somewhere between Our Town and his own more realistic plays. The play also is much more tender than the short story which he originally wrote on the same subject. Whatever the reason, the play inevitably works its magic when the cast begins tackling the relationships in the Wingfield household. The magic certainly worked in this production, in its simplicity and its directness. I wonder if Williams named Amanda lackadaisically, or if he really wanted to tell us that she was a woman who needed to be loved (in Latin, the word translates roughly as musting to be loved). There is certainly enough indication in the script to justify the conclusion that she is as much broken by the world as Laura and Tom are perhaps as broken as The Gentleman Caller. But she has the stiffening in her that does not permit herself to believe that she is indeed needy. Janice Gohm Webster brings all this into her performance of Amanda. Her handling of the phone conversations where she is trying to sell magazines for the pittance they will earn her demonstrate how lonely she is, even though she still loves the rogue of a husband who left her with two children to raise. Webster gave a subtle, well-rounded performance of the character. Tom, the son who has perhaps begun to search for love in all the wrong places, and who evidently missed having a father, is given a noteworthy performance by Kevin Christopher. The more he does the role, I am sure he will see more and more subtleties than the ones he has already brought to fruition, but right now it is a fine characterization. The play is ostensibly about Laura, the sister with a limp maybe she had polio in one leg as a child, since she speaks of having to wear a brace on her leg, but all that has done is play to the childs lack of self confidence. She has never stopped running in a way different from that employed by her father. Her performance is convincing, although I would have liked her to have blossomed a little more with The Gentleman Caller. John Klesch is The Gentleman Caller, adored and highly successful in high school (where Laura had a crush on him) licking the wounds of reality that the world has foisted upon him, and that drives him, in a display of nimbleness not often seen on stage; to go to night school to work his way up the ladder. Its a thoughtful performance, a bit more physical than some, but nevertheless

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