Sunday, May 08, 2011

Hard-hitting Stuff!

This afternoon I didn't go to the Met ($$$) but to the Bruno Walter Auditorium, for a free concert. Yes, these exist in New York, if oyu know where to go, or if your friends point you to them. It was the cellist Sam Magill (of the Met Orchestra) and Beth Levin on the piano, with a mixed programme of Beethoven, Rudin (alive and well), Debussy and Vierne.

The programme, in the packed little hall (about 200 seats) started with a Beethoven sonata for cello and piano. I love Beethoven cello sonatas, and have a few recordings of them. But I nearly flew out of my chair when the piano started - it was incredibly loud! I could immediately understand why the piano lid was only about an inch open.... Somehow this performance was not what I would have expected; it did not hang together, the phrases did not flow and create tension. Maybe it was the first-piece-in-the-programme-before-a-world-premiere syndrome, but I was a bit disturbed, and worried about the rest of the concert. But perhaps the cellist was a bit disturbed by the loud, loud piano?

Andrew Rudin's cello and piano sonata was interesting. Not least because I know quite a good cellist called Alexander Rudin who used to regularly play in Vilnius - there are not enough names to go round musicians, sometimes. It was a nice, fairly conventional piece, with no unusual noises, scratching below the bridge and so on - but with quite a challenging ending, technically. Otherwise it was not at the extremes of virtuosity, I think (but am open to correction). I liked the faster movement in the middle (but then I tend to like these), and I thought this performance went better than the Beethoven.I suspect for our Mr Geringas it might not be avantgarde enough, but not everyone needs to write avantgarde music.

The last two pieces, by Debussy and Vierne, also went vastly better than the B. The Debussy was not the usual sweetish kind of stuff that people like about Debussy (La Mer)- but I know he changed his composition style as he aged. Normally I would run miles from Debussy. Vierne's Sonata for cello and piano was nice, too and beautifully played, on the cello.