Former BPO Principal Cellist and Resident Conductor returns to town
On Friday, April 13 at 8pm, ‘A Musical Feast’, the cutting-edge presenter of traditional classical and contemporary classical music in Western New York will present its spring concert in the group’s audience-friendly home in the acoustically superior Tower Auditorium of the Burchfield Penny Art Center, located on Elmwood Avenue, on the Buffalo State Campus. ‘A Musical Feast’ has a well-deserved reputation for eclectic programming, and this concert is no exception with musical selections ranging from the baroque era to the 21st century.
Buffalo classical music lovers might remember Arie Lipsky best as the BPO’s former principal cellist, a post he filled in 1984, from which he went on to become the BPO’s Resident Conductor in 1990, a post he held for the next twelve years. Lipsky is currently in his twenty-first year as Music Director and Conductor of the Ashland Symphony Orchestra, and he often returns to the area to conduct outdoor summer concerts. Lipsky will display a side of his musicianship that may come as a surprise to most who know his previous work. It turns out that he also studied the flute while a student in Israel, and he will be performing two of the Six Chassidic Songs, along with Claudia Hoca, by American composer Paul Schoenfield, as transcribed for flute and piano. The Six Chassidic Songs show one of the many other sides of the multi-faceted composer, best known perhaps for his 1986 work Cafe Music, for violin, cello and piano. Lipsky and Hoca will also perform D’un Matin de Printemps by Lili Boulanger, the extraordinarily gifted younger sister of the renowned musical pedagogue Nadia Boulanger, who died tragically young in 1918.
The evening will end with a late, Romantic Era flourish, when Lipsky returns in his more familiar role as cellist, along with Hoca as accompanist, for a performance of Russian composer Serge Rachmaninoff’s early, but substantial Sonata in G minor for Cello and Piano. One of the very few chamber music works by the composer, the sonata never fails to win audiences over with its heart-on-the-sleeve romanticism.
Diane Hunger, who teaches saxophone at Syracuse University, as well as at the State University of New York at Fredonia, has performed as a soloist with the Hamburg Symphony and has had a solo performance in Carnegie Hall. She frequently rediscovers music from the past which she transcribes for saxophone, and she has founded a new company which will publish her transcriptions. To open the program Hunger will perform the Sonata in a minor by Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, the most musically gifted son of Johann Sebastian Bach. Originally for flute, the work is one on the earliest unaccompanied works for solo flute, and it was composed while C.P.E. Bach was chief harpsichordist of Frederick the Great, who excelled as a flute player.
Making a welcome return to “A Musical Feast’, violin virtuoso Charles Castleman will perform the fiendishly challenging Sonata No. 2 in A major, from the Six Sonatas, Op.27, a 1924 collection of solo sonatas for violin by the great Belgian violin virtuoso Eugène Ysaÿe. The work is dedicated to is dedicated to the great French violinist Jacques Thibaud, and each of its movements has a programmatic title, perhaps influenced by the dark, hidden world of necromancy. The ‘Dies Irae’ motif from the Requiem Mass, woven throughout the work, makes it more than a little devilish, as well as fiendishly difficult to play.
Charles Castleman, who has enjoyed a lengthy career as a touring violinist, taught for many years at the Eastman School of Music. He will be joined by pianist Claudia Hoca, who also has enjoyed a career as a piano concerto soloist and is currently the staff pianist of the BPO, for a performance of the Violin Sonata No.2 by Charles Ives, the truly original maverick of American music. The three movements of the sonata all make innovatively entertaining use of 19th century American hymns and fiddle tunes, such as “Money Musk” and “Turkey in the Straw”.
Part of the April M&T Second Friday at the Burchfield Penney Art Center: “The Last Detail”, a four-day festival of classic musical performances at Burchfield Penny Art Center, 1300 Elmwood Avenue, Buffalo, New York 14222. General Admission: $10, Members: Free, For tickets call: (716) 878-601.