On a recent Saturday evening in late November, snow swirling wildy outdoors, Russian Duo lived up to their reputation as an ensemble of “explosive talent (Hartford Advocate). Oleg Kruglyakov, a balalaika virtuoso from Siberia, and Terry Boyarsky, an American concert pianist of Russian-Jewish heritage, performed to a rapt audience at the Saranac Methodist Church. Their artistic collaboration, born from a shared love of traditional folk culture and classical elegance, has led them to create captivating programs that feature Russian folk music, lyrical romances, rhythmic dances, classical music favorites, gypsy melodies, and Russian popular songs. The sheer variety of music is astonishing as they express the full range of human emotions – alternately soulful and humorous, restrained and vigorous, mischievous and passionate – and guide their listeners on a fascinating journey across the span of Russian culture through the ages.
- Pianist Martin Söderberg
On a gloomy October afternoon Martin Söderberg bathed the room in warm sunshine with his all-Spanish solo piano program “A Musical Journey Through Spain.” Martin’s nordic surname belies his Spanish ancestry and, having grown up in Spain, a thorough absorption of that culture. Now living in New York City, he continues to be surrounded by “new world” Spanish culture. Martin performed a range of colorful evocative works by Soler, Albéniz, Granados, Mompou, Infante, and De Falla, alternately tender, fiery, poetic, passionate, intimate, and epic. Never has our Steinway concert-grand sounded more eloquent. Demonstrating deep understanding of a rich musical legacy and style, Martin’s consummate skill and virtuosity expressed the essence of each vignette and mood. One friend in the audience – actually a Spanish lady – gave Martin the compliment of saying that he captured “el duende” – the mysterious power that a work of art has to deeply move a person. High praise indeed!
Anastasia Dedik, Boris Allakhverdyan, Gulia Gurevich
Prima Trio had a dynamic and productive week with us. It is particularly pleasing when visiting musicians are able to have an “Adirondack Experience.” The Trio structured their time in a way that allowed them several long and lazy afternoons at Chazy Lake. Boris even took up fishing, catch-and-release! Their retreat project was to prepare new material for the 2013-14 concert season. The principal works they focused on were Mozart’s Kegelstatt Trio (clarinet, viola, piano) and Bartok’s Contrasts (violin, clarinet, piano), both big, important works, each challenging in different ways. At the conclusion of their stay they performed both pieces in a free public concert at the Saranac Methodist “Church in the Hollow,” adding also Srul Glick’s Klezmer’s Wedding to round out the program. We had a turnout of about 120, considerable for a summer Sunday afternoon, and they were unanimous in expressing their appreciation for this superb ensemble. The trio then rewarded us with an encore, Piazzolla’s Otono Porteno, which elicited in another standing ovation!
The beautiful young women of Duo FAE launched their two-week retreat with a house-concert at Weatherwatch Farm. Violinist Charlene Kluegel and pianist Katherine Petersen performed selected movements from three important sonatas for violin and piano: Brahms No. 3 in D Minor; Janacek, and Franck in A Major. It was breath-taking to experience such playing – big and energetic, yet refined and sensitive – at such close range! Because they live rather far apart during the academic year (they are pursuing DMAs at Indiana and McGill Universities), their time spent together in a Hill and Hollow Music retreat is precious. They are rehearsing repertoire for a pair of concerts to be given in Montreal, as well as material to be presented at the Brahms International Competition in Austria. Good luck, ladies – we know you will perform wonderfully in these projects!
The husband-and-wife Kaganovskiy Duo began their residency with a superb concert, free and open to the public, at the Saranac United Methodist “Church in the Hollow.” Artur and Eszter Kaganovskiy performed Pleyel’s Grand Duo No. 1 for Violin and Viola, Leclair’s Sonata No. 1 for two violas op. 12, Kelsh’s Saranac Sketches for Violin and Viola (official public premiere), Moretti’s Golá (from Twelve Jewish Songs), and the Handel-Halvorsen Passacaglia for Violin and Viola. They then spent the rest of the week holed up in the studio recording this program with sound technician Joel Hurd. They promised to do their “homework” before leaving for their concert tour in Hungary and Romania: a time-consuming and intensely focused job of listening critically, selecting the best takes, and submitting them to Joel for mastering. We’ll keep you posted as this exciting project develops!
A joyful noyse was made in the recent program June 1-2 shared by NAVE and The Four Winds recorder consort at St. Peter’s Church (Plattsburgh) and St. Bernard’s Church (Saranac Lake). Both ensembles were featured separately and together: NAVE in a cappella vocal works; The Four Winds in typical renaissance forms (fantasia, ricercar, canzona) and dance sets.
“Madrigals, Motets, and Merriment!” will be offered again August 22 at 7:30 pm at the Methodist Church in Long Lake, NY. A choice sampling of short vocal and instrumental works express the full range of human emotions. Little vignettes, both secular and sacred, capture the essence of a mood or state, each dealing with an aspect of earthly or divine love. Coquetry, passion, lust, loss, and despair, as well as spiritual longing, fervor and joy are all depicted in a perfect marriage of words and music.
One of the wonderful things about Sonic Escape is the imaginative and gutzy way they incorporate classical, traditional folk, and world music in their programming. The title “Around the World” offers the ensemble a flexible platform to mix and match their eclectic repertoire in interesting musical juxtapositions. At Weatherwatch Farm on June 15 we heard Japanese Folk Tune Medley and Scandinavian Folk Suite alongside the strict classical form of Telemann’s Canonic Sonata in A Minor, while Bach in Ireland interspersed movements from a J.S. Bach Suite, such as “gigue” and “corrente,” with Irish traditional dance tunes of like rhythm and step, such as “slip-jig” and “reel.” We also heard the “New World” theme and “Humoresque” of Czech composer Dvorak followed by “La Cumparsita” of Uruguayan Rodriguez. Many of the works are Maria and Shawn’s own skillful arrangements, tailored to exploit the native character of their instruments as well as their own splendid virtuosity.
The improbable duo of traditional-music accordionist Jeremiah McLane and classical pianist Annemieke Spoelstra have been on an extended tour to promote their new recording “DANSE” and the timing worked out for them to be the first ensemble to inaugurate the new performance lights we installed at the Saranac Methodist “Church in the Hollow.” They had played a lot of this repertoire for us in a house concert about 18 months earlier in anticipation of the recording. It was such a winning program that we wanted more people to have the opportunity to hear them in a public venue.
Six Rumanian Dances of Bartok and Twelve Armenian Dances of Hovhaness formed the bulk of the first half, along with “Slavonic Dance” of Dvorak and “Ruchenitsa,” a raucous traditional wedding Bulgarian dance preceded by a stately “Douarnanez” (a traditional dance of Normandy) composed by Jeremiah. The second half featured Poulenc’s Suite Francaise, based on renaissance dances, and several movements of Ravel’s Mother Goose Suite, including a pavane and a waltz. Piazzolla was also a strong presence on the program, with “Tristeza de un doble A” and two movements from “History of the Tango.” Considering the fact that none of the music was conceived for accordion-piano duo, it is all the more interesting to note that Jeremiah and Annemieke produced the arrangements themselves. Well done!
The Johannes Quartet
C.J. Chang, viola; Peter Stumpf, cello
Soovin Kim and Jessica Lee, violin
North Country native and our favorite violinist Soovin Kim came with his string quartet for a working retreat in the first part of November. The way the Johannes Quartet works is rather interesting – they are not together 52 weeks a year like most quartets. Rather, each member has other primary employment that is very demanding and high-profile. For example, the violist Choong-Jin (C.J.) Chang is Principal Viola of The Philadelphia Orchestra. Peter Stumpf was Principal Cellist of the Los Angeles Philharmonic for 10 years and is now on the cello faculty of the Indiana University. Violinists Soovin Kim and Jessica Lee both have full schedules as guest artists with numerous orchestras and chamber music festivals. All four members of the Johannes Quartet are highly-acclaimed soloists for concertos and recitals and sought-after collaborators in chamber music.
These exceptional four musicians come together for only a few weeks at a time to rehearse and perform (their time together might add up to only a few months a year), but when they do get together it is an intensely productive period. While with us they delved deeply into two Brahms quartets: No. 1 in C Minor, op. 51 (1873) and No. 3 in B-flat Major op. 76 (1875). They shared these works in a pair of informal performances, both free and open to the public, at Lake Forest Senior Community and at the Church in the Hollow in Saranac. It was exciting and breathtakingly beautiful!
Arnold Steinhardt, first violinist of the legendary Guarneri String Quartet, remarked: “The Johannes String Quartet, comprised of 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.”
Cellist Diana Golden
Diana Golden was with us for a week in mid-October, her retreat focused on preparing repertoire for doctoral program applications in the NYC area. She recorded J.S. Bach’s Suite No. 5 in C Minor (unaccompanied) with the assistance of recording engineer Dan Czernecki. Dan won a Grammy for Best Classical Album, 2011 (Brazilian Guitar Quartet). We are pleased to report that both Diana and Dan loved the acoustics of the music room at Harvey’s Cottage! Diana also gave an informal lecture-performance on her Bach Suite for a group of 40 at Weatherwatch Farm. It was clear in her mastery of the music and her understanding of the history of Bach and his period – as well as by her engaging manner – that Diana will be a superb addition to the music faculty at a fine institution.