Artvoice: Buffalo's #1 Newsweekly
Home Blogs Web Features Calendar Listings Artvoice TV Real Estate Classifieds Contact
Previous story: Twins
Next story: Round 4 Quarterfinals Set!

Pianist on the Go

Pianist Eric Huebner and cellist Natasha Farney play for Friends of Vienna on Sunday.

Pianist Eric Huebner is featured in a pair of very different concerts this weekend

Eric Huebner is one busy guy. The assistant professor of music at UB, who was recently appointed to the prestigious position of principal staff pianist with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, accompanied the orchestra on its three-week long European tour last month, returning to Buffalo just in time to join his UB colleague, cellist Jonathan Golove, for a imaginatively programmed, enthusiastically received recital of Russian music from the Soviet era. He then played several challenging pieces on the A Musical Feast program at the Burchfield Penney. And just last week Huebner planned and then joined his students in celebrating the centenary of the birth of the maverick American composer John Cage, with a rare performance of Cage’s complete sonatas and preludes for prepared piano.

After his recent whirlwind of activity, you might think that Huebner—who, along with his wife, the noted American composer Caroline Mallonée, recently became a new parent—might take some downtime, but this weekend Huebner is performing in two completely different concert programs. On Friday, March 31 at 7:30pm, Huebner will join his colleagues, cellist Rebecca Patterson, clarinetist Garrick Zoeter, and violinist Jesse Mills, who together make up the touring group known as Antares, on the stage of Slee Hall. Then on Sunday, April 1 at 3:30pm, Huebner will join noted American cellist Natasha Farny, associate professor of cello at the Fredonia School of Music, for a recital in the Friends of Vienna concert series at the Unity Church on Delaware Avenue in Buffalo.

Olivier Messiaen composed his Quartet for the End of Time for violin, clarinet, cello, and piano by necessity, since these were the only instruments available to him when he was a prisoner during World War II. The unique spiritual quality of that work has continued to resound with succeeding generations of classical musicians, who most often had to perform it in ad hoc ensembles, due to the lack of other works written for that unusual instrumental combination.

Richard Stoltzman, Ida Kavafian, Fred Sherry, and Peter Serkin founded Tashi, a legendary but now disbanded group, to play the Messiaen work, but soon started commissioning new works. Antares has been widely hailed in the critical press as a successor of Tashi, and the group was the first to commercially record some of the works written for their predecessors, including Roger Reynolds’s Shadowed Narrative, inspired by text from the novel One Hundred Years of Solitude by Colombian author Gabriel Garcia-Marquez, which is on Friday’s program, along with Hindemith’s Quartet from 1938, and Stravinsky’s suite from L’histoire du Soldat for violin, clarinet, and piano, as well as Breakdown Tango by John Mackey, composed for Antares in 2001. Antares will host a composer workshop session on Thursday, March 29 at 3:30pm in Slee Hall, and a master class at 7pm in Baird Recital Hall, open to public observation. For tickets and information, call 645-2921 or visit

While most of the program to be performed at Sunday’s Friends of Vienna recital by Huebner and Farny is decidedly more traditional, concentrating heavily on music by Beethoven and Schumann, it will also feature a contemporary work, Spirit Geometry, written in 2010 by American composer Scott Wheeler. The Friends of Vienna are sponsoring a repeat performance of this program for the students at the Buffalo Academy of the Visual and Performing Arts.

Schumann wrote his delightful Fantasy Pieces for clarinet and piano, but he also indicated that the clarinet part could be played by a violin or a cello, and performers on each of those instruments have argued ever since over who sounds best in this piece. Beethoven composed his final two Sonatas for Cello and Piano, Op. 102 when he was profoundly deaf, and they rank among the masterpieces of his final period. Scott Wheeler notes that his work “takes its title from the book The Spirit of Geometry by the French mathematician and philosopher Blaise Pascal, whose combination of mathematics and spirituality is like music in a completely different medium; his understanding of humanity, as shown in his classic Pensees, encompasses a wide spectrum of psychology and religion. The cello seems to me a similarly wide-ranging philosopher of music. Each movement of this sonata highlights a different aspect or register of the cello, and has a title and an epigram from the Pensees.”

Tickets are $8, $6 for students. Visit for more information.

blog comments powered by Disqus