in: Reviews

July 7, 2014

Spotlight on Schubert

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Saturday evening, as a prelude to the season opener, two Tanglewood Music Center Fellows filled Ozawa Hall with the strains of Franz Schubert’s Sonata in C, D. 812 (1824) for piano, four hands. Mika Sasaki and Livan gave a well-balanced and colorful reading of this work.

The opening Allegro moderato announced a theme which was at once both chipper and subdued. The second movement, Andante, was charming with undercurrents of turmoil. The Scherzo and Trio (a lovely combination), like the finale, is marked Allegro vivace. Choosing a judicious tempo, the music was suitably lively. It scampered, it marched. The slowed-down theme, near the end of the fourth movement, was a study in heartbreak.

For this performance, Mika Sasaki took the upper lines and Livan the lower. Both played with great sensitivity to the music and to each other. They maintained a balance across the span of the instrument and both exhibited a great variety of touch at the keyboard. Sasaki perhaps drew forth a few more tonal colors than Livan, although that might be more a reflection on their respective parts in this sonata. I was impressed with the delicacy of their playing, a skill often lost in today’s rush to flash in performance. Here the bright spot, far more enduring than one brief illumination in a pan, was nuance and sensitivity to Schubert’s music.  Both were coached by Ignat Solzhenitsyn, yet the accolades for this sublime concert go most decidedly to Sasaki and Livan.

I also must comment on the unnamed page turner. She managed to stay out of the way of the performers and handled the turns with music clips on both left and right sides, plus the repeats in the music which meant the page turning was not just a linear activity here. The wind blew open doors to the hall, but the music remained unruffled on the piano table. She makes a compelling argument for this activity’s becoming an Olympic sport with herself the first medalist.

Cashman Kerr Prince, trained in Classics and Comparative Literature, is now a Visiting Scholar in the Department of Classical Studies at Wellesley College.  He is also a cellist of some accomplishment, currently playing with the Brookline Symphony Orchestra.

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