On February 12, an audience of 40 or so fine arts aficionados enjoyed an elevating evening of incomparable violin and piano artistry by Diego Caetano and Evgeny Zvonnikov.
Diego has provided a signal service to this community by offering an international array of artists through the AC Piano Series, and this night certainly fit that mold with Brazilian and Russian musicians along with a world-premier by a Brazilian composer.
The concert opened with “Sonata No. 2. Op. 121” by Robert Schumann. This work was completed in three weeks in 1851 during a final surge of creativity, after which Schumann would attempt suicide and endured a mental breakdown that would prove fatal.
Curiously the motivic feature of the work, the D minor triad, corresponds to the initials of the dedicatee, Ferdinand David.
The first movement is titled “Langsam,” but it is very stately but at the end alternates between the pensive and the flippant.
The second movement has a strong tandem opening which features a strong emotive quality that some suggest is a hymnal nod to Mendelssohn.
The third movement, “Leise, einfach,” light and easy, is false advertising. Evgenny’s triple-stopping and aerobic pizzicato should be termed “beeindruchend:” impressive!
The fourth movement, “bewegt” or moving, undulates in intensity like a sine curve. Serrated triplets signal theme changes in the flow of modulation which builds to a powerful finish.
This was a world-class performance by world-class artists!
And, speaking of world-class, the composer of the next work, the Brazilian G. Bernstein, portends world-recognition for his compositions if the world-premier of his “Sonata for Violin and Piano” is any indication.
A tremulous but hardly timid piano opens the work before taking a backseat to the violin until the end of the movement where the instrument asserts a dissonance and a heavy hand.
The second movement, “Lento,” opens with a solo violin which becomes high and poignant in concert with the piano, then ends abruptly with no sense of closure.
The ambiguous end of the second transitions to a bouncy third where distinctive regional rhythms emerge, becoming almost anthem-like. A very snappy and raucous dialogue plays twixt the violin and piano, which, like a good movie, leads to a happy ending.
This just proves that Cowboy Country is a good place for world premiers, and we’d be honored to hear many more from Maestro Bernstein played by such a dynamic duo.
The third work on the program was “Sonata for Violin and Piano” by Cesar Franck who composed it as a wedding present for the violinist Eugenie Ysaye. So, the next time you don’t know what to give for a wedding gift, try a sonata!
The first movement begins wistfully with the piano leading the amplification towards a beautiful conclusion.
In the second, a rumbling piano presages a different theme, which, with the violin, becomes turbulent and angry as the theme is recapitulated and resolved.
The third, or “Ben Moderato,” allows artistic improvisation permitting Evgenny to release his inner Hungarian gypsy. The mood isn’t sustained as the tone becomes anguished, then accepting, like the grief process.
The fourth then surprises by its almost whimsical opening which is echoed contrapuntally in increasing intensity to conclude in a transcendent crescendo. What a piece of music!
And, what an evening out here on the High Plains of the Panhandle where the perceived art forms are variegations of barbed wire and horseshoes but we reveled in Schumann, Franck and a Bernstein world-premier.
Let’s Keep on Keepin Amarillo Artsy, Austin Weird, and Lubbock in that Rear View Mirror!!!!!!