The retreat of the contemporary harp duo Lilac 94 was a satisfying and productive success from all angles. Their over-arching need was to rehearse in-depth the intensely challenging work Pentacle of Carlos Salzedo and to prepare a “conversation piece” around it to demonstrate the various extended techniques Salzedo employed in its composition. After first giving their spiel, which involved the audience (of about 95) in a thoroughly enthusiastic Q & A, Christina Brier and Kathryn Sloat delivered their first complete performance of the work in its entirety on Sunday, January 22. It was revelation! After the concert there was a veritable “petting zoo” with dozens crowding in to learn more about the pedal harp and its sonic capabilities.
Lilac 94, contemporary harp duo
No time to rest on their laurels, however! The following day Mountain Lake PBS sent a team out to Saranac to film the duo at work in the music room of the guest house. Ultimately a full day’s footage will be edited into a brief ten-minute segment to be aired on Spotlight, an award-winning show that highlights arts and culture in our region. We’ll get the word out to you regarding the schedule of Lilac 94 featured on Spotlight – stay tuned!
Ronald Thomas, cello; Patricia McCarty, viola; Arturo Delmoni, violin
An early-season blizzard cruelly interfered with the Delmoni-McCarty-Thomas String Trio’s concert Sunday, November 20. However, the 75 stalwart Adirondackers who braved the weather were richly rewarded by an exquisite program of mature Mozart (Divertimento in E-flat Major, K563), early Beethoven (Trio in C minor, Op. 9, No. 3), and youthful Dohnanyi (Serenade in C Major, Op. 10).
Arturo Delmoni on violin, Patricia McCarty on viola, and Ronald Thomas on cello played with deep camaraderie – theirs is a longstanding friendship – as well as deep comprehension of and affection for the music. What an outpouring, what a love-feast, what sublime beauty! This is a trio that should be touring everywhere and heard by everyone, but alas! Individually they’ve been there, done that – making the rare occasions when they play together all the more to be cherished.
Gloria Chien, piano
Pianist Gloria Chien shared some of her personal favorites in her solo recital at the Saranac Methodist Church on Sunday afternoon October 16. This was a most fitting introduction to the Hill and Hollow Music family, not only in purely musical terms, but as the wife of our own beloved Soovin Kim. Gloria chose beautiful and familiar works of Mendelssohn (Songs Without Words), Chopin (Nocturne, Barcarolle), Liszt (Venezia e Napoli), and Debussy (Suite Bergamasque) that exemplify and epitomize the great age of pianism and piano composition. In her pacing of the demanding program Gloria showed herself to be a seasoned mature artist. She met all challenges with sensitivity and strength, passion and precision, delicacy and grandeur. The audience of 125 welcomed Gloria warmly and responded effusively to each work. For an encore she offered Scriabin Nocturne in D-Flat Major for Left Hand, she said, “to give her right hand a rest”!
Adriane Post, violin; Paul Dwyer, cello; Kyle Miller, viola; Johanna Novom, violin
The Diderot Quartet is one of the most imaginative young string quartets out there. Straddling two worlds, their collective feet are planted firmly in both the early music movement and the classical period. Johanna Novom and Adriane Post, violins; Kyle Miller, viola; and Paul Dwyer, cello bring an exciting fresh approach to familiar works as well as those less-known. They delve into the abundant string quartet literature of the 18th and early 19th centuries filtered through the lens of early music sensibility and perform in historically informed style on historical instruments. The DSQ spent a week with us on retreat expressly to explore and rehearse new repertory. On September 11 they offered us the fruits of their labor: Mozart’s String Quartet in G Major, K387, “Spring” and Burgmüller’s String Quartet No. 1 in D minor, op. 4. Their performance was remarkable – elegance, passion, sensitivity, exuberance, daring, and precision all coming together in a perfect synthesis. The rapt audience recognized that they were participating in an extraordinary music experience. Over 100 attended our annual free concert, a memorable occasion in Saranac!
Regi Papa, Ben Capps, Konstantine Valianatos
And they played like gods, too! During their week-long retreat at Weatherwatch Farm, the trio prepared the huge new program for the upcoming concert season: Rachmaninoff Trio No. 1 in G Minor, Élégiaque; Brahms Piano Trio No. 2 in C major, op. 87; and Tchaikovsky’s monumental Piano Trio in A Minor, op. 50. We were privileged to hear their first public performance of the new program on Sunday, August 21st at the Saranac Methodist Church, with its splendid acoustics and fine piano. The ensemble had obviously delved deeply into these rich and complex works. They were keenly and passionately committed to each other and to the music, which was note- and phrase-perfect, in full comprehension and context of the overall arc. Each musician a stunning virtuoso in his own right, the whole was far “greater than the sum of its parts.” The audience sensed that they were witnessing something rare and exciting – the energy was palpable, exhilarating. After a moment of stunned silence at the conclusion of the Tchaikovsky, they jumped to their feet in a thunderous eruption of applause, an acknowledgment of their appreciation and affirmation of the power of live performance.
Sean McCutcheon & Co., aka Balkanville, ventured south from Montreal while their friend and coach Max Fass came north from NYC. The Balkanvillains converged in Saranac for a five-day sojourn during which they spiced up and polished their repertoire of Balkan dance music. There were daily dives into the swimming hole and happy hours on the porch with this lively bunch. And long hours of rehearsal in between……. It was rather like the famous remark about Thelonius Monk, that he could take a perfectly fine in-tune piano and make it sound out of tune…… Ultimately they presented a raucously wonderful concert outdoors on the grounds of Weatherwatch Farm. The hills rang with the sounds of accordions, tuba, drums, clarinet, flute, pipes, and voices – and happy dancing feet. Our friend Anne Bailey wrote: “Once again you outdid yourselves with the splendid soirée. From “soup to nuts” it was a perfectly delightful evening. It’s hard to imagine a more lovely setting to celebrate the solstice days. I’ll treasure the picture of the musicians and dancers on the plush green meadow – like a movie, but better because it was real!”
The core four-members of Rebel, the exemplary baroque music ensemble named after the French composer Jean-Féry Rebel, gave a sparkling performance at the Methodist Church, those members being Jörg-Michael Schwarz and Karen Marie Marmer, violins; John Moran, cello; and Dongsok Shin, harpsichord. Their exquisite program, entitled Barocco: Musical Treasures of the 17th and 18th Centuries, included sonatas by Corelli, Telemann, Rossi, Marini, Gabrieli, Bach, Goldberg, Boyce, and Vivaldi. Owing to the extensive reach and longevity of Rebel’s reputation, a veritable crowd of 120 turned out, a lot of new faces among them – always an encouraging sign! When the final notes sounded, the audience jumped to their feet to express enthusiastic appreciation for a unique and exciting live music experience.
Tim Collins USA Jazz Quartet performed three shows at the Saranac Fire Hall February 12-14, each to a capacity crowd that appreciated a great groove and responded with warmth on a frigid weekend. Tim’s originals fleshed out the first half and peppered the second half of mostly standards. His music is melodious and lyrical and the not-overly-extended improvisations struck a fine balance of intellectual challenge and comprehensibility. Pure listening pleasure ruled in a funky-hip jazz club ambience. The elegant pianist Ayako Shirasaki came up from New York for the shows and the tight rhythm section came from Vermont with upright bassist Robinson Morse and drummer Gabe Jarrett. It was a charismatic ensemble that clicked from the get-go and became more cohesive with each show, and left you hungering for more playing into the night…… The concerts were a touching memorial to three beloved members of our community recently passed: Tim’s father Bob Collins, his grandmother Helen Schmidt, and trombonist, educator, and friend Rick Davies. Let’s hope we don’t have to wait another ten years before Tim organizes another great ensemble!
Patricia McCarty, viola; Arturo Delmoni, violin; Jung Lin, piano; Ronald Thomas, cello
We had a terrific turnout for the Concert of Piano Quartets by Patricia McCarty and Friends. We had been a little concerned because it is a challenge to market a no-name ensemble, even when the players are as pedigreed as these. Fortunately, the astute folks from both print and broadcast media recognized that this was no ordinary ad hoc ensemble and they put the word out – hooray!
The Adirondacks can claim one of the pre-eminent violists of our day in Patricia McCarty. She persuaded some of her friends – each a renowned soloist and ensemble player – to join her in a special chamber music collaboration. Their thrilling and deeply satisfying program included Mozart’s Piano Quartet in E flat, K. 493; Fauré’s Piano Quartet No. 2 in G minor, Op. 45; and Brahms’s Piano Quartet in A major, Op. 26. The audience recognized that they were witness to a unique musical chemistry and responded with multiple standing ovations. It was a transporting heavenly experience!
No surprise that the church was chockablock packed for the Johannes Quartet’s concert Sunday October 25 – over 250 in the audience, with overflow onstage seating “Lincoln Center-style” – in the choir! The community came out en masse to hear our beloved Soovin Kim. He played like an angel — his violin sang sweetly and soared loftily. It was an exciting performance also because it was the debut for the quartet’s new second violin Julianne Lee. The program gave her good opportunity to impress all with her skill – no shrinking musical violet she! Esa-Pekka Salonen’s Homunculus opened the concert. Written expressly for the Johannes Quartet, it is a mightily challenging work, but they have been performing it for eight years now and it has become internalized to such a degree it seems a force of nature, its intensity throbs and surges with relentless sweeping energy and power – totally exciting!
Showing a completely contrasting mood and style, next came Mozart’s String Quartet No. 15 in D Minor, K. 421, played with such wafting delicacy and caressing sweetness, and following intermission, Brahms’s String Quartet No. 3 in B-flat Major, op. 67, which gave the lower voices of CJ Chang’s viola and Peter Stumpf’s cello loose reins to express with luscious tawny tones. Arnold Steinhardt, first violinist of the legendary Guarneri String Quartet, said it most eloquently: “The Johannes String Quartet, comprising four impressively gifted instrumentalists in their own right, have come together to form one of the great chamber music groups of our time. They play with technical polish, with deep musical understanding, and with uncommon inspiration. The Johannes is all I could ever dream of in a string quartet.”