The Catalyst String Quartet in Review

The Catalyst String Quartet
Karla Donehew Perez, violin
Christopher Jenkins, viola
Karlos Rodriguez, cello
The American Bible Society; New York, NY
April 5, 2013

In sponsoring this superb concert by The Catalyst String Quartet in the Conference Center of The American Bible Society’s New York headquarters, Musica da Camara continued its policy of presenting performances in non-traditional concert venues. Even though the room was fairly large, the fact that there was no stage and both audience and performers were on the same level made for a more intimate chamber music experience. All the members of the quartet are top Laureates and alumni of the Sphinx Competition, an annual competition for young black and Latino string players. That the Sphinx Organization thinks highly of these players is shown by the fact that their quartet is called “A Sphinx Ensemble.”

First we heard “Sturm,” a work by one of the quartet’s violinists, Jesse Montgomery. Written in 2006 for string quintet, it was arranged for quartet in 2008 and again revised for The Catalyst String Quartet in 2012. Very well constructed, this was a great opener. The beginning melody, especially its first three notes, served as the basis for much of the work’s melodic material. And I loved the strumming pizzicati which permeated the piece. The performers’ rhythmic energy, their polyphonic clarity and tight ensemble–playing were to continue throughout the evening.

With spoken comments, Ms. Montgomery then introduced Osvaldo Golijov’s “Tenebrae.” She demonstrated the sound of sul ponticello (bowing close to the violin’s bridge which creates a glassy sound and emphasizes the higher harmonics) and told us that the score instructs her to tune the violin’s G-string down a third. The use of sul ponticello added to otherworldly character of this work, and the lowered G-string darkened the sound of the quartet–tenebrae is the Latin word for shadow. The quartet gave us a beautifully wrought, lucid and committed performance of this most moving composition. Each player shone, both as collaborators in a like-thinking ensemble and as lyric “soloists.” Both violinists, Karla Donehew Perez and Jesse Montgomery, spun out luscious melodies on their violin’s lowest string; violist Christopher Jenkins played what sounded like Hebraic chants with soulful mournfulness; and cellist Karlos Rodriguez sailed around the cello’s high register with ease. (He would attain stratospheric heights in the concert’s second half.)

The last work on the first half was one that few in the audience have heard in its entirety, Samuel Barber’s String Quartet, Opus 11. But most people are familiar with the arrangement for string orchestra of the quartet’s second movement, the “Adagio for Strings.” Surrounding this beloved lyrical movement are two much more dissonant and rhythmically complex pieces which the quartet played with as much assurance and ease as they did the lyrical adagio.  I was very impressed by the many string colors that the quartet created. (Most memorable were the passages in the first and second movements played with little or no vibrato.) In fact I was very impressed by every aspect of the quartet’s playing on the first half of this concert.

But I was awed by their performance of Alberto Ginastera’s fiendishly difficult String Quartet No.2, Opus 26! This work makes incredible technical demands, and the Catalyst players were up to all of them. One marveled at their perfect sense of ensemble during the unison passages and complex rhythms of the first movement. During the second movement, one luxuriated in the luscious tone of violist Christopher Jenkins. The mysterious sounds of the third movement, marked Presto magico, were flawlessly produced by using string techniques such as glissandi, harmonics, col legno (touching the strings with the wooden part of the bow) and the aforementioned sul ponticello. During the fourth movement cellist Karlos Rodriguez essayed his instrument’s highest notes with abandon. The concert was brought to a thrilling conclusion by the wild final movement, aptly marked furioso.

We were then treated to a delightful encore, the quartet’s arrangement of a children’s song from Puerto Rico, “El Coqui.” The audience left smiling.

The Klopotic-Pierce-Zoering Trio in Review

Light and Sound Presents
The Klopotic-Pierce-Zoering Trio
Julianne Klopotic, violin; Joshua Pierce, piano; Lawrence Zoering, cello
The Old Stone House; Brooklyn, New York
April 4, 2013

Founded by violinist Julianne Klopotic, Light and Sound bills itself as a “full-spectrum music performance series.” From the experimental to the classic, with jazz/rock and world music in between, Light and Sound is  in residence at the Old Stone House in Brooklyn for the 2013 season. The Old Stone House is a very intimate venue.  The feeling is very much like the 19th century salon, with seating for a small audience in immediate proximity to the performers.  The acoustics are remarkably good for a stone building constructed in the 17th century.  The small but enthusiastic audience was treated to a performance of Franz Schubert’s Piano Trios by the Klopotic-Pierce-Zoering Trio.

These three performers each have extensive and impressive resumes as soloists.  What always remains to be seen is the end result of joining such strong personalities as an ensemble. Sometimes it does occur that the whole is less than the sum of the parts, but I am pleased that this was not the case for this trio.

The first half was the Piano Trio No. 1 in B-flat Major, Op. 99 (D. 898). This work was started in 1827 and finished in 1828, the last year of Schubert’s life.  From the opening notes of the Allegro Moderato, the trio took an assertive and confident direction with its strong, full-bodied sound. For a small venue, this was especially bold, declarative playing, led ably by the energetic pianist Pierce. It was highly satisfying. Klopotic has a very rich, singing tone that captured the optimistic essence of this movement.  Zoering’s solo in the Andante poco mosso was played with artistry.  There were some rough edges at the end of this movement, but it did not spoil the overall effect. The Rondo finale was played with gusto to the last.

The performers are to be commended on their level of concentration considering the less-than-exemplary behavior on the part of some listeners. Several of the audience members were recording the performance with their mobile phones held in the air facing the performers, while one very enthusiastic listener “conducted” by waving her arms a la Leonard Bernstein throughout the entire work, at a distance of maybe three or four feet from Klopotic.  Perhaps one should be grateful for the fact that she actually kept an accurate beat!

The second half was dedicated to the nearly hour long Piano Trio No. 2 in E-flat major, Op. 100 (D. 929). This work, completed in November 1827, was one of the few late works that Schubert actually heard played in his lifetime.  The second movement theme is well known for its prominent use in the movie Barry Lyndon; so much so that the association is as strong as the use of Mozart’s Andante movement of K. 467 is to the movie Elvira Madigan. The thematic material in this trio is extensively developed and requires tremendous attention to detail. The trio mostly met the challenge, continuing their bold approach in the opening Allegro. It was extroverted playing from completely involved players. The sublime Andante con moto was met with nodding heads and smiles from the audience, who no doubt felt the pleasure in recognition of the theme. The Scherzando was played with care but also some small issues of ensemble- -fleeting in the grand scheme of things. The Allegro Moderato finale proved the players indefatigable, with a tremendous drive that built in intensity, to the delight of the same audience members so moved by the finale of the B-flat trio. After the final E-flat chord sounded, there was a moment of silence, after which the bemused Pierce called out, “That’s it!” The audience responded with a loud, prolonged standing ovation that surely was gratifying to the trio. It was a fitting end to an excellent concert. They encored this program on April 6, 2013 at the same venue.

The Klopotic-Pierce-Zoering trio is a fine ensemble.  I do hope to have the opportunity to hear them again in the future.

James Jeonghwan Kim in Review

James Jeonghwan Kim, cello
Larry Wang, piano
Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall; New York, NY
February 3, 2013
James Kim

James Kim: Photo credit: Ryan Moon

There are debuts and debuts:  the blood bank of human endeavor is forever bringing new musical talent to the fore. But I daresay, the recital of a 19-year-old cellist at Weill Hall on February 3rd was more than merely excellent, it was an historical coming of a fully honed master virtuoso; one is compelled to formulate new standards for the golden instrument!

Young Mr. Kim came to us with formidable credentials. The young artist was born in Seoul, Korea in 1993 and began his studies with Susan Moses, with whom he worked for five years at the University of Indiana in Bloomington. During this time he also received tutelage from Janos Starker, and later from Laurence Lesser at the New England Conservatory. He also enrolled at the Walnut Hill School for the Arts, and is currently studying at Yale with Aldo Parisot. It goes without saying that during his apprenticeship to some of the most illustrious and revered pedagogues of his instrument, Mr. Kim has garnered competition prizes and performance laurels (e.g. The Boston Symphony Orchestra at Symphony Hall; the NEC Youth Orchestra at Jordan Hall; the Korean Broadcasting Symphony Orchestra in his native South Korea– just to cite a few of his accomplishments–before making his official debut at Weill Hall).

But all of this foregoing is commonplace: after a few astonishing and beautifully tapered, long spun phrases of Schubert’s “Arpeggione” Sonata, D.821, this astonished and experienced connoisseur realized that James Kim is a miracle. Never mind my hyperbole; the absolute perfection of his playing, technically, musically and communicatively, had me recalling Casals, Fournier, Rostropovich and Tortelier (of a very different school) but likewise, Feuermann, Yo-Yo-Ma, Miklós Perényi, Heifetz (of a closely analogous virtuoso persuasion), and of course Kim’s mentors, Starker and Parisot. Never before, have I encountered such winged ease, such airborne joy, such silken smooth bowing and tone production. All of these facets were present at the service of stylistic knowledge, bracing rhythmic thrust and most importantly, an inviting warmth and modest honesty.

The Schubert Sonata was played with the first movement repeat, forward momentum and necessary flexibility. Kim’s assisting pianist, Larry Weng, a pupil of Boris Berman at Yale, supplied spot-on ensemble and concentration. He also won a “Brownie Point” by using the Barenreiter Edition, with its corrected harmonies in the central Adagio.

The Debussy D Minor Sonata that followed also had the requisite impetuosity and unpredictability. Altogether, a volatile, wonderfully shaded and exquisitely timed rendition from both protagonists.

Isang Yun’s short unaccompanied piece, “Glissees pour violoncello seul”, especially written for a competition in 1970, makes, as intended, fiendishly difficult demands on the player, but Kim mastered these hurdles as if they were child’s play.

The Mendelssohn D Major Sonata, Op. 58 (more frequently played than its predecessor, No. 1 in B-Flat) took off in a shower of gravel, a galloping interpretation (with pianist Weng as an ideal co-jockey).

There was an encore, too: Rostropovich’s Humoreske, which resembled David Popper’s “Elfentanz”, albeit with an unfamiliar, sinister spice.

2010-2011 Concert Season

Tokyo String Quartet (Martin Beaver, Kikuei Ikeda, violins, Kazuhide Isomura, viola, Clive Greensmith, cello)
92nd Street Y; New York, NY
October 30, 2010
With pianist Juho Pohjonen
January 22, 2011
With pianist Aleksandar Madzar
March 5, 2011
With pianist Robert Levin
Orion String Quartet (Daniel and Todd Phillips, violins, Steven Tenenbom, viola, Timothy Eddy, cello)
February 24, 2011
Mannes College of Music; New York, NY

This season, “late” Beethoven has been a strong presence on New York’s concert scene, and notable performances of his last string quartets were given by two of today’s most acclaimed chamber groups: the Tokyo and Orion String Quartets. Both have lived with these works throughout their careers, and, in these performances, again brought to them the consummate tonal, musical and ensemble perfection born of years of study and world-wide performances. Among the Tokyo’s New York appearances was a six-concert cycle to benefit the AIDS epidemic; the Orion presented a similar series to the City as a free gift to celebrate the new Millennium.

The Tokyo is performing the complete Beethoven cycle over four years at the 92nd Street Y, where it is Ensemble-in-Residence, devoting each season to one “period” of his works; this is the final year. For this series, the players are adding a new element to the programs: they are combining the quartets with important keyboard compositions of the same period to give audiences a wider perspective of Beethoven’s work. Their four guest pianists represent different nationalities, generations and styles, and include two extraordinarily talented young newcomers: Juho Pohjonen from Finland in his 92nd Street Y debut in the first concert, and Aleksndar Madzar from Belgrade in his New York debut in the second. Pohjonen, a multiple international prize-winner, chose an unusual calling card: Beethoven’s final set of Bagatelles, Op. 126. These six perfect miniatures look deceptively simple and are not outwardly effective, but require utmost control, sensitivity and subtlety. With remarkable concentration, flexibility, color and nuance, Pohjonen brought out their contrasting character, from dreamy ambiguity to fiery assertiveness, leaving an impression of superior pianism and communicative power.

Madza’s international career was launched when he won the 1996 Leeds Piano Competition. A fine pianist with a splendid but unobtrusive technique, his unfailingly beautiful, singing tone and distinctive lyrical gifts found full expression in the Sonatas Op. 109 and 110, and he handled the mood and tempo changes admirably.

In the third concert, the renowned American pianist, fortepianist and scholar Robert Levin played the Piano Sonata Op. 101 with his customary clarity and nobility; the Quartet’s cellist, Clive Greensmith, joined him for a lovely, expressive performance of the Cello Sonata Op. 102, No. 1.

The Tokyo performed the Quartet Op. 130 with the original Finale, the thorny, daunting “Great Fugue,” and the Quartets Op. 127, 132, and 135. They will close the series with Op. 131 in the fourth concert on May 7; their guest will be the brilliant young Russian pianist Kirill Gerstein in Beethoven’s last Sonata, Op. 111, and the Bagatelles Op 119.

The Orion Quartet is Ensemble-in-Residence at the Mannes College of Music, where it presents an annual concert series. Its most recent program featured Beethoven’s Quartet Op. 131, and Brahms’ Op. 51 No. 2, to show how Brahms continued Beethoven’s legacy and where he diverged from it. However, these two works revealed a sort of inverse legacy: Beethoven’s free, continuous seven-movement structure seemed far more innovative than Brahms’ traditional four movements.

The performance, as always, was distinguished by its technical and ensemble perfection, its tonal and rhythmic balance, its control, spontaneity, and its deeply felt expressiveness.

Both halls were filled to the rafters and the ovations would not stop.

The Ansonia Trio

The Ansonia Trio
Angelia Cho, violin
Laura Metcalf,  cello
Andrea Lam, piano
Bechstein Artist Series at Bechstein Piano, New York, NY
June 11, 2010


Ansonia Trio

Ansonia Trio

A relative newcomer to the chamber music scene, the Ansonia Trio was formed in 2009, and won the Grand Prize of the Daniel Rutenberg Chamber Music Competition the same year. The Trio made its New York debut at the New York House Concert series, has performed in various venues in and around New York, and participated in the Prussia Cove Festival in England.

Violinist Agelia Cho received her Bachelor of Music degree at the Curtis institute under the late Jascha Brodsky and Ida Kavafian, and her Master’s degree at the New England Conservatory of Music under Donald Weilerstein. She has won wide recognition as soloist, recitalist and chamber musician.

Cellist Laura Metcalf received her Master of Music degree at the Manes College of Music, studying with Timothy Eddy, and, upon graduation, was honored with the James E. Hughes award for excellence in performance. In addition to being active as soloist and teacher, she is a member of various chamber groups, such as the Tarab Cello Ensemble, a group of eight cellists with whom she has performed and recorded. She is assistant principal of the Chamber Orchestra of New York.

Australian pianist Andrea Lam studied with Boris Berman at the Yale School of Music, where she won the Woolsey Hall Competition, and with Arkady Aronov at the Manhattan School of Music, where she won the Roy M. Rubinstein Award. She was a semi-finalist in the 2009 Van Cliburn Competition, and has performed and recorded concertos with Australian orchestras and chamber music with the Takacs Quartet. She was featured at the 1999 and 2000 Sidney Festivals, playing for audiences of 180,000.

The Ansonia players say their goal is to “present programs that engage and inspire modern audiences.” The June 11 concert – their final one of this season – featured two romantic repertory favorites, Mendelssohn’s D-minor Trio Op. 49, and Brahms’ C-major Trio Op. 87, and two of Piazzolla’s “Four Seasons of Buenos Aires.”

The Trio is clearly a fine, very promising group; only a year after its formation, the strings’ intonation is excellent, the players’ phrasing, dynamics and expression are unanimous, their ensemble and rapport – complete with approving looks and smiles – are close; they obviously enjoy their companionship and collaboration.

Technically, they were more than equal to the music’s demands, negotiating Mendelssohn’s brilliant writing with easy facility; indeed, the Scherzo, though not too fast for their fleet fingers, was too fast for human ears. They projected the work’s ardent romanticism without excess or sentimentality, capturing the dark, ominous tension of its corner movements and the calm serenity of the second. The Brahms was carefully paced, austere but expressive; the first movement’s tempo changes were smooth and organic. They made Piazzolla’s idiom sound as natural as their native language.

The concert’s only flaw was the balance. The intimate Bechstein auditorium is just right for chamber music, but the piano, a vintage concert grand, is much too big and loud for the space and the music. When kept wide open, even the most careful, well-intentioned pianist cannot help sometimes overpowering the strings. The late great cellist and teacher Felix Salmon, exhorting the string players in his student groups, used to say: “Just look at its size!”

An Evening of American Song: “And If the Song Be Worth a Smile”

An Evening of American Song:
“And If the Song Be Worth a Smile”
Lisa Delan, soprano
Kristin Pankonin, piano
Matt Haimovitz, cello
The Allen Room, Frederick P. Rose Hall, Jazz at Lincoln Center
May 21, 2010, New York, NY

This concert of songs by six living American composers was presented by PentaTone Classics to celebrate its release of Lisa Delan’s recording of the program, also entitled “And if the Song be Worth a Smile.” Three of the composers – Gordon Getty, David Garner, and Luna Pearl Woolf – were present; Woolf’s cycle was written for Ms. Delan and her pianist, Kristin Pankonin, whose empathetic support contributed greatly to the evening’s success.

Lisa Delan

Lisa Delan

Of the Three Folk Songs arranged by Jake Heggie (b. 1961), two were plaintive, one was cheeky and chattering. The accompaniments underlined the melodies’ mood and character, but were often too elaborate. “Cabaret Songs” by William Bolcom (b. 1938), on texts by Arnold Weinstein, evoked sensuousness, inebriation, and yearning.

“Odas de Todo Mundo” (“Odes for Everyone”) by Luna Pearl Woolf (1973), to poems by Pablo Neruda and sung in Spanish, were commissioned by Ms. Delan. The music mirrored the mercurial changes of the poetry – Latin dance rhythms, descriptions of nature and the human condition – and ended in a blaze of exuberance. The performers were joined by the composer’s husband, cellist Matt Haimovitz, renowned for his masterful playing and his multi-faceted career. Once a famously talented prodigy, he is now a versatile, communicative artist; in a demanding part tailored to his virtuosity and beautiful tone, he added intense, compelling power to the performance.

Three Cabaret Songs by Corigliano (b. 1938) to poems by Mark Adamo poked fun at various aspects of the musical experience, punning on the atonalists’ tone-rows, parodying the latest electronic recording device, lampooning the transformation of the friendly neighborhood record store into an impersonal coffee-bar. The songs sounded less “cabaret”-influenced than Bolcom’s, but, like much of Corigliano’s music, bore traces of many other styles. Though Mss. Delan and Pankonin had performed the songs separately, this was the complete set’s premiere.

Getty (b. 1933) wrote his own poetry for his three-song cycle, “Poor Peter:” a pensive love song, a rollicking dance with surprising, quirky rhythms, and a mournful, pleading ballad sung by an old beggar (recalling the blind “Harpist” of Goethe and Schubert). Words and music mimicked the style of Merrie Olde England, with words like “easterly” and “southerly.” The program’s title is taken from the third song.

The seven-song cycle “Phenomenal Woman” by Garner (1954) incorporated jazz, blues, rock and cabaret styles. The proudly feminist poems by Maya Angelou ranged from defiance, protest, and tongue-in-cheek self-promotion to religious fervor and resignation.

Lisa Delan has made these songs entirely her own, textually and musically. Her voice encompasses a wide range and she can color and inflect it for mood and expression. Her excellent diction was especially important in the humorous songs. She used “light” amplification to reflect the sound back to the performers; this made it difficult to fully judge the quality of her voice, and probably caused some shrillness in the topmost register and some imbalance with the instruments. She was most persuasive in the slow, lyrical, pensive songs; the fast, skittish ones seemed least suited to her voice and stage presence.

The audience’s warm response proved that all the songs were worth a smile, so Mr. Haimovitz returned for an encore: Ms. Woolf’s trio arrangement of Getty’s “The Going from a World We Know.”

Makers, dealers, and experts in violins, violas, 'cellos, and their bows

SoNoRo Festival Bucharest

Ensemble Raro:Diana Ketler, piano;
Alexander Sitkovetsky, violin;
Razvan Popovici, viola;
Bernhard Naoki Heidenborg, cello;
Roxana Constantinescu, guest mezzo-soprano
Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall
New York, NY
February 16, 2010

Formed in 2004, Ensemble Raro (named after Master Raro, the wise old arbiter of Schumann’s imaginary Davidsbündler) must be one of the best, most versatile young groups before the public. Resident Ensemble of the SoNoRo Festival, founded in 2006 by violist Popovici, the group appears in concert halls world-wide; this was its New York debut. SoNoRo has released two recordings, and fosters living composers through performances, and young musicians through scholarships.

The players of Ensemble Raro, who also pursue individual, solo, chamber music and teaching careers, are splendid technically, musically and communicatively, making this a true collaboration of equals. Although they were born and trained in different countries, their rapport is so close that they seem to share and anticipate one another’s whims and wishes; the strings’ tone, which is warm and expressive, blends together without losing its variety or individual timbre, and their intonation is impeccable, as they take over lines imperceptibly on the same note. Totally immersed in the music, they never call attention to themselves by sound or gesture. The only flaw, endemic to this combination, is the balance, which favors the (wide-open) piano, despite pianist Ketler’s obvious sensitivity.

Their program featured two novelties by Enescu and Peteris Vasks. Enescu’s Sept chansons de Clément Marot combines Romanian folk melodies with medieval modes and elegant French sophistication. Mezzo-soprano Constantinescu and pianist Ketler brought out the songs’ different character and moods beautifully. Born in 1946, Peteris Vasks gained recognition in the 1990s and has received several European honors and prizes. His Piano Quartet (2000-2001) is extremely difficult and almost unremittingly intense. The strings often alternate with the piano in textures featuring solos, duets, chordal unisons, long glissandi, double stops, and drones. Some of its six movements flow together, some are obsessively repetitive, and all have powerful climaxes (Vasks calls one “a black hole”). The Raro Ensemble introduced it in Germany and England; in this New York premiere, their performance was committed and authoritative.

The players’ youthful romanticism showed to fine advantage in a wonderfully spontaneous, exuberant, expressive but unsentimental performance of Schumann’s Piano Quartet. But the playing of the slow movement of Brahms’ C Minor Piano Quartet as an encore was even more impressive for its deeply felt inwardness.

Denitsa Laffchieva, clarinet; Ofer Canetti, cello; Maria Prinz, piano

Denitsa Laffchieva, clarinet;
Ofer Canetti, cello;
Maria Prinz, piano
Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, New York, NY
February 11, 2010

Three musicians from different corners of the world, Maria Prinz from Bulgaria; Denitsa Laffchieva from Bulgaria—but residing in London; and Ofer Canetti from Israel, converged recently to perform a program of Debussy, Strauss and Zemlinsky. The concert was presented by MidAmerica Productions. Each musician impressed in different ways, not always complementary to one another, but ultimately providing a stimulating evening to their large audience.

Opening with Debussy’s Première Rhapsodie for clarinet and piano, Prinz provided a gently colored backdrop for Laffchieva’s silky, elegant clarinet sound. Both players managed the challenges of the work with grace and ease overall, though this listener somewhat missed the sensuous abandon heard in favorite performances. Perhaps simply living with the work a bit more would help. It’s also possible that placing the piano lid on the half-stick (it was on full) might have rendered pianistic details less constraining to the clarinetist.

Ofer Canetti joined forces with the versatile Ms. Prinz in Strauss’s Sonata, Op. 6. This was a full-bodied and impassioned performance. Canetti is a powerfully communicative young musician of strong temperament and technique. Some slipping of the endpin at the beginning seemed ready to derail things, but he drove it into the floor with force (from a height and with a loud thud) and continued. One was at first surprised by this harpooning exhibition, but with a player as naturally expressive and unselfconscious as Mr. Canetti, such matters may unfortunately escape consideration. Unfazed, he dove deeply into the work, projecting each nuance with sensitivity, while keeping a firm grip on the larger structure. Prinz ably held her own with her demanding part (made more so by some unruly page-turns). A piano on half-stick and more regular collaboration will bring them to an even higher level.

The second half consisted of the Zemlinsky Trio, Op. 3, a challenging, Brahmsian work that requires a special advocacy to pull it off. It seemed under-rehearsed here; despite some beautiful solos passed between clarinet and cello, there was some groping in the dark for the music’s shape and direction. The third movement of the Brahms Op. 114 Trio was played as an encore, and the performance made one wish that that trio had been played instead of the Zemlinsky.

Cello-Piano Duos Prove Popular This Winter

Formed in 1980, the Timothy Eddy/Gilbert Kalish cello-piano duo is another remarkable collaboration. The two players are ubiquitous on the music scene: in addition to giving concerts together, they are active as soloists, chamber musicians and pedagogues. Eddy is the cellist of the Orion Quartet, in residence at Mannes, in whose intimate concert hall the Duo often presents sonata recitals. Their latest concert there—a capacity house on January 25th, 2010—featured many different styles. Classicism: Beethoven’s Variations on a Theme from Mozart’s Magic Flute, played with grace, humor, and inward expressiveness; Romanticism blended with atonality: Ben Weber’s brief Five Pieces, in which three sustained, slow, mournful character sketches are framed by two lively ones; Impressionism: Debussy’s colorful, piquant, ironic Sonata, and Fauré’s Sonata No. 2, elusive and very rarely performed, but obviously loved by these two players. After all this misty evanescence, the vigorous, earthly Prokofiev Sonata brought a sense of relief, as if the clouds had lifted and revealed solid ground under a blue sky. The players, too, seemed more relaxed, unrestrained and free, reveling in its rhythmic vitality and its full-blooded, soaring melodies, totally at one with the music and each other.