Lane Series wraps up

The UVM Lane Series closed its 2007-08 season with a brilliant concert by duo pianists Claire Aebersold and Ralph Neiweem April 25 at the Redstone Recital Hall. It was music of the early 20th century, featuring works by Debussy, Ravel, Respighi and Stravinsky, all music originally written by the composers either for two pianos or one piano, four hands. The concert was a revelation on two counts: first, as with many of the other attendees, I was unaware that Stravinsky did not orchestrate Le Sacre du Printemps for some time after he wrote the two-piano score; second, the playing of such well-known works as Ravel's La Valse in the composers two-piano version indicated that all of the color that went into the orchestral version was implicit in the two-piano version in fact, with regard to that particular work, I think that the two-piano version was superior to the orchestral version but maybe that was due to the superb playing of Aebersold and Neiweem. Except for the second movement, the only piece that was a bit prosaic-sounding in its piano version was Respighis Fountains of Rome. The concert opened with Debussys Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun, and from the first touch of the keyboard by Aebersold, it was clear that we were in for an evening of first-rate music-making. La Valse proved to be a genuine tour de force, a performance much more exciting and evocative then the orchestral version, and impelled forward by Aebersold's brilliant musicianship and technical capabilities (Neiweem, her husband, frequently played second piano, and intrinsically less brilliant part, but without the solid underpinnings from his playing, Aebersold could not have shown so brightly). The Stravinsky filled the entire second half of the program. Every mood, every dynamic marking, the lyricism of passages, the savage poundingit was all there, and it was spectacular. Aebersold and Neiweem met every technical challengeAnd they are many and difficult in this piece or any piece by Stravinsky. The audience practically jumped to its collective feet at the conclusion of the work. They brought the duo-piano team back several times, and somehow the duo-pianists found the strength to play two encores by Debussy. Such stunning musicianship and technical stamina won the hearts and admiration of the entire audience. I hope Aebersold and Neiweem return soon. Saint Michaels College April 27, I went to see an afternoon performance By Counterpoint, the chamber chorus formed by Robert De Cormier and conducted by him. With guest artists Paul Orgel and Joseph Pepper, piano, and Elizabeth Reed, viola, they performed music by Bartok, Janacek, Paul Alan Levi, Ravel and Brahms. The program opened with Four Slovak Folk Songs by Bartok. They were indisputably Slovak in their melodic line and in their rhythms; they were given a good performance by the group and Orgel. This was followed by Nursery Rhymes by Janacek, who provided both the text and the music (they were sung in English). Once again the chorus produced beautifully articulated music, aided by Orgel and Reid. The program ended the first half with Six Yiddish Scenes by Levi. Although based on eastern European Jewish folk songs, each of the six scenes had a bit of drama in them. My favorite was The Little Tailor, including the solo sung by Stephen Falbel. They were delightful group of songs. After intermission Orgel and Pepper played the Mother Goose Suite by Maurice Ravel for piano four hands, with narration delivered clearly and, when appropriate, archly by Louise De Cormier. All of the brilliance of the orchestral version was present in this performance. The program closed with Brahms's Liebeslieder Walzer (the first set) in a performance that was rich in sound, but which, for my taste, was a tad staid. Orgel and Pepper accompanied the singers. This is a superior singing group and it was a wonderful way to spend a Sunday afternoon. The Vermont Youth Orchestra Association Later on Sunday, I was present at the Elley-Long Center for the Hermance Prize concert and what a wonderful concert it turned out to be, with eight young soloists in recital. Benjamin Green, double bass, opened the program with an elegy and then played the first movement of the concerto for double bass by Koussevitzky. It was an inspiring performance. Alice Hasen, violin, performed the first movement of the Sibelius violin Concerto in D Minor with not only technical finesse but a musical perception of the concerto that was awe-inspiring. Katie Jordan, horn, played a Sonata for Horn and Piano by Hindemith with her usual flawless tone, which she uses at the service of her impressive musicianship. Owen Kevra-Lenz, violin, played the first movement of the Barber violin concerto with consummate passion and technique to burn (it is a favorite concerto of mine). Leah Kohn, bassoon, played two movements from the Sonata for Bassoon and Piano by Hindemith, showing a beautiful smooth tone and technique to accomplish what the music calls for. Mia Morrison, violin, who played Sarasate's Gypsy Airs with the necessary freedom of rhythm and amazing accuracy in the double and triple stops. Joseph Senecal, double bass, who played the first movement of a double bass concerto by Bottesini capably and very musically. Zina Ward, oboe, who played the third movement of a Concertino in F Major by Kalliwoda with marvelous tone and excellent technique. Kudos to their accompanists also: Diana Chartrand, Paul Orgel, Alison Cerutti, John Henzel and Melody Puller It was a marvelous ending for a weekend that was overrun with music. Burlington resident Dan Wolfe observes and critiques the local arts scene for the Times Sentinel. His column appears weekly.

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