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Friday Night Dilemma

Two intriguing classical music programs go head to head

The avid classical concertgoer faces a difficult choice this Friday evening, February 11, when the first solo piano recital by visiting UB assistant professor Eric Huebner, in Slee Hall on the UB Amherst campus at 7:30pm, squares off against the Musical Feast chamber music program at the Burchfield Penney Art Center at 8pm.

The Musical Feast series has found itself a very comfortable home in the Tower Auditorium, as the resident music ensemble of the BPAC. Charles Haupt, artistic director of the series, always manages to assemble programs of material that you are unlikely to hear in any other local venue. Friday’s program showcases three cellists, two of whom are locally based: Feng Hew, associate principal of the BPO; Jonathan Golove, assistant professor at UB; and Carter Enyeart, distinguished professor of cello at the Conservatory of the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

In an appealing tie-in for the venue, Enyeart will perform Robert Muczynski’s Gallery: Suite for unaccompanied cello, suggested by the watercolor paintings of Charles Burchfield. Muczynski composed Gallery: Suite at the behest of filmmaker Harry Atwood for his film about the American Realists, including Burchfield. Like Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, Gallery: Suite, made up of nine short movements, captures the private reverie that occurs when the viewer contemplates a painting.

Accompanied by pianist Claudia Hoca, Golove will premiere his new work, Kreisler’s Coat: for cello and piano. Golove was inspired by Schumann’s Kreisleriana, which was itself based on the fantastical figure of Johannes Kreisler, a character who appears in a number of E. T. A. Hoffmann’s fictional writings. Certain synesthetic comments in Hoffmann’s work provided his starting point: “Hoffmann described Kreisler as a ‘little man in a coat the color of C sharp minor with an E major colored collar,’” Golove says. “Curiously, ‘Sehr rasch,’ the seventh of Schumann’s fantasy pieces, contains precisely this key relationship…I took Schumann’s work as the starting point for my own, at the same time making a further association with a musico-historical figure bearing the Kreisler name, namely Fritz Kreisler, whose violin tone has always evoked for me images of golden colors and sensations of warmth.”

Golove and Hoca will also perform Séquence pour un hymne à la nuit, by Alain Margoni, a piece reminiscent of the works of Margoni’s teacher, Olivier Messiaen, particularly in its series of mysterious chords that suggest Messiaen’s synesthetic approach to harmony. Golove is the soloist in Ruth Wiesenfeld’s stories still for cello and pre-recorded tape, to a text by Samuel Beckett, while violinist Charles Haupt and cellist Feng Hew will perform Zoltán Kodály’s immediately accessible, folk-music-inspired Duo for violin and cello.

Tickets are $5 for Burchfield Penney members, $10 for non-members. For more information, call 878-601 or visit

Pianist Eric Huebner at UB

On Friday evening at 7:30pm, Eric Huebner, now in his second year as a visiting faculty member at UB, will present his first solo piano recital in Buffalo. The fact that this will be his first solo recital is somewhat surprising since Huebner quickly established his credentials as a formidable keyboard artist with his performance with the Slee Sinfonietta of the challenging Piano Concerto by György Ligeti in September of 2009. Since then, Huebner has offered a two part, under-promoted transversal of Messiaen’s remarkable cycle for solo piano, Vingt regards sur l’enfant-Jésus, as well as a memorable performance of Stravinsky’s irresistible Trois mouvements de Petrouchka, originally written for the composer’s friend, Arthur Rubinstein.

A couple of weeks ago, visiting pianist Jeremy Denk mesmerized the audience at Slee Hall, performing Ligeti’s first two books of Études, minus the final etude of the second book, which Denk characterized as “unplayable.” Huebner, who will perform Ligeti’s third and final book of Études, may be the ideal local pianist able to follow Denk. Huebner explains: “If Book One is Ligeti’s take on the Chopin etudes—Autumn in Warsaw is dedicated to Chopin—then Book Two is Ligeti’s version of Liszt’s Concert Etudes,” Huebner says. “Pieces in which it’s harder to discern a single musical device that unites the whole.”

According to Huebner, Ligeti may have been inspired to compose his Etudes by the music of the American composer Conlon Nancarrow, with its plethora of rapid fire canons and intricately designed counterpoint made possible by Nancarrow’s use of the player piano. “So perhaps Book Three is Nancarrow,” Huebner says. “Or perhaps it’s Bach, another composer who loved a good canon. Sadly, these pieces are also the last he wrote for solo piano.”

Huebner describes Schumann’s Kreisleriana as “the heart and soul of this program. In this landmark work for solo piano, inspired by the Hoffman novel of the same name, Schumann offers a full exploration of the melodically sublime and the frenetic. The piece gains its power from the way each subsequent movement seems to go more deeply into the two musical characters that the composer first portrays in the second movement. Schumann’s love of Bach is heard throughout—the very design of the piece in eight contrasting movements is like a baroque suite. There is also the opening, toccata-like movement and contrapuntal moments like the brief fughetta in the seventh movement which concludes with a beautiful, slow chorale in E-flat major.”

Huebner notes that György Kurtág’s Klavierstuck, op. 3 can be heard as homage to Anton Webern: “The movements are striking in their intensity and in the extremes, not only of dynamics, but of the texture, tempo and articulation that they demand. For a piece that lasts less than 10 minutes, it really packs a punch.”

Huebner’s wife Caroline Mallonée is the composer of Panagrams. A pangram is a sentence that includes all letters of the alphabet, used once. “Likewise, each piece in this set of 44 short interconnected pieces uses every key on the keyboard once,” Huebner says. “It was inspired by the sorts of little snippets of scales and exercises a pianist might play to warm-up or try out a piano.”

Tickets are $10 general admission, $5 for UB faculty, staff, alumni, senior citizens, and students. For more information, visit

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