From Prussia to Russia… and America too!
Music of the Romantic Era
A Series of Lecture Recitals
Bösendorfer New York
200 Lexington Avenue
New York, NY 10016
Gerhard Feldmann and Lisa L. Feldmann, Owners
Presented by Josephine Reiter
Music Professor and Consultant
Assisted by Guest Artists from The Juilliard School
and The Manhattan School of Music: Jennifer Beattie, Soprano, Adiel Shmit, Cello, Taisiya Pushkar, Piano
By Dr. Robert D. Ekselman
October 19th, 2005
(See Bösendorfer Loudspeaker Event and CD Review)
(See Review, Adiel Shmit Cello Recordings on CD)
Bernard Romberg (1767- 1841)
Sonata for Cello and Piano in E Minor, Op.38 No.1; allegro non troppo, andante grazioso, rondo: allegretto
Robert Schumann (1810-1856)
Adagio and Allegro for Cello and Piano, Op 70
Petr Ilitch Tschaikovsky (1840-1893)
Pezzo Capriccioso, Op 62
Samuel Barber (1910-1981)
Sonata for Cello and Piano in C minor, Op 6, allegro ma non troppo, adagio-presto-adagio, allegro appassionato
The evening’s program was thoughtfully dedicated by our young artists to the memory of Daniel Pearl - the American journalist and music lover who was abducted and senselessly murdered in Pakistan. In the spirit of the Foundation named in his honor three years ago, it continues a tradition to promote cross-cultural understanding through journalism, music and innovative communication. Held once again in the Design Center and nestled amongst a handsome selection of variously ornate Bosendorfer grand pianos, the evening featured the duo artist pairing of Adiel Shmit, cello and Taisiya Pushkar, piano, both familiar to this audience through their April 6 lecture / performance at this same venue. The program and artists received a warm introduction from music professor Josephine Reiter who also spoke briefly about the works being performed, and the romantic element as a common thread. Following the evening’s music was a selection of Austrian wines and cheeses.
The program opened with the Romberg Sonata, a work rarely performed and not particularly memorable either thematically or otherwise. In character it borrows from the early Romantics Mendelssohn and Schubert, but lacks in either the inventiveness of the former or the harmonic daring of the latter. Romberg, being renowned as a virtuoso cellist, might have granted us at least the benefit of some high jinks in his sonata for which posterity may have consequently looked more favorably! All credit never the less goes to Adiel and Taisiya for presenting this little known work that served as a pleasant introduction and off-set a well balanced program.
Schumann’s Adagio and Allegro was written originally for horn and orchestra, which would explain the somewhat uncellistic nature of some of the writing. In this work we see a densely woven exchange between the instruments, the one often completing the ideas of the other. This piece, written in his later period, clearly reveals the turmoil and pain of Schumann’s inner life. It does not sit comfortably within its phrase structures and meanders through moments of both despair and triumph. We heard here Taisiya playing on equal footing and sensitive to the nuances of the string writing, whereas in the Romberg her role was more that of the humble accompanist’s. Here she proved herself up to the challenge of asserting her personality, all the while never overpowering the cello. In this writing we see a piece presented primarily from the perspective of its emotional communication. The structure is secondary to its content, and so it is also in the formal sense, truly a romantic work. Adiel’s string tone was lush and warm throughout. I would have liked to also have heard a more reflective and darker character projected.
The program’s third item, Tchaikowsky’s Pezzo Capriccioso, is a piece written to dazzle and entertain, and in this Adiel and Taisiya ably succeeded, portraying its whimsical character with ease and panache. Following was the sonata by American composer Samuel Barber, a work written in the early 1930’s at the tender age of only 23 but belying its creator’s age in the seriousness of its content and also in its compositional dexterity. The writing is lyrical, moody, often reminiscent - especially in the first movement - of the writing of Shostokovich in terms of a certain terseness and angularity of statement. In this work perhaps Adiel and Taisiya showed the strongest rapport with the composition, playing with authority and poise.
The encore featured Variations on a Theme of Rossini by Czech’ composer Martinu, a piece of considerable technical complexity for the cellist, written with wit and humor, often revealing striking harmonies in the piano part. Both artists play in obvious harmony with one another, always presenting the music with enthusiasm, integrity and insight. An enjoyable evening!