Sunday, March 4, 2012

Another triumph on the hill...... (pardon the bad sound)

The Music on the Hill series presented another wonderful concert at Northside Baptist Church.  The artists were Charae Krueger,cello, and Robert Henry, piano.  The concert began with Beethoven's 12 Variations on a theme from Handel's "Judas Maccabaeus."  For anyone who has worked the Suzuki system with their children, this theme is very familiar.  The Variations is a fairly early work of Beethoven's and it contains many baroque references.  As the piece progressed it became more interesting and the soloists seemed to enjoy it.  It was great to hear this music so well played.  Krueger and Henry play well together- their balances seem to be on target and neither drowns out the other.

Three Works for Piano comprised the second section of the program.  Prokofiev's Prelude in C Major began the set.  Robert Henry played the music authoritatively.  Ravel's Jeux d'eau followed.  It  was clear from the outset that Henry is a master of the keyboard.  His fingers skillfully traversed the keyboard, which is essential in this piece.  Ravel included many runs that included the very highest notes on the piano.  Henry never missed the proverbial beat.  Prokofiev's Scherzo and March from "The Love for Three Oranges" was next.  This is familiar music, even if the listener can not quite place where it was heard. It has appeared in the soundtrack of several cartoons, for example.  The orchestral version is rich, in part because of Prokofiev's strong orchestration.  Henry's command of his instrument enabled him to bring the same kind of color with just his keyboard.  Henry closed this section with his composition called "Waltz", based on a theme by Chet Akins.

The final portion of the of the first half of the concert was Chopin's Polonaise Brillante.  Again, Henry was in top form and provided a rich and powerful performance.

The second half of the concert featured Chopin's Cello sonata in G minor.  This is a stunning exploration of the composer's despair over his separation from George Sand.  The piece begins with heart achingly beautiful music that reflects the composer's loss and subsequent pain.  The second movement, in ABA form, begins with an angry waltz followed by more music about love lost, with a final return to the hard-edged waltz. The thisr movement is a gentle reflection of the composer's feelings, as if time had almost healed the loss, without taking the love. The final movement had a very different character.  the mood was lighter, yet always beautiful, as we expect from Chopin.  Henry and Krueger played this music so effectively.  Ms. Krueger exploits the full range of her instrument's dynamics, from pianissimo to fortissimo.  She can dig into the strings without sounding excessively growly  or out of control.  Mr. Henry again gave a standout performance. He moves easily from being an accompanist, to a soloist, to one member of the dialogue between his instrument and the cello.

This was another in the series of triumphs by this intimate series of chamber works.  I am very gratified to be able to hear such top echelon perfromances in such a wonderful acoustic space.

For information about the schedule for Music on the Hill, click here:

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