Due to last-minute vicissitudes, Newton Community Education Lifetime Learning presented three-quarters of the Revere Piano Quartet Sunday, but music prevailed at full strength with the help of words.
The dream portion of cellist Eugene Kim’s sobriquet “Dreams and Dance belonged to Sonatine for Violin and Cello by Arthur Honegger, a member of Les Six, a group of 1920s French modernists who wished to differentiate themselves not only from German composers of the 19th century but also from earlier ones. The first movement of Sonatine opens with the instruments playing in octaves; they soon disconnect and converse. At times the material sounds deliberate and reflective, at other times unruly. The middle movement begins in a contemplative Andante before breaking into short brusque themes, and finally returning to the Andante. The abrupt third movement features pulsating rhythm and not altogether pleasant harmonies; Eugene Kim characterized the anguish we heard in it as the nightmare part of the dream. Throughout, ensemble was masterful, with violinist Jin-Kyun Joen’s tone mirroring that of the cello.
Pianist Tae Kim started his segment with Dream by John Cage, comparing beforehand his attempts to manipulate the English language when first learning it to Cage’s manipulation of musical elements. A few simple ideas can create a complete experience, and so it was in Kim’s rendition. Disarmingly simple and repetitive, Dream grabbed ahold of us completely. Kim’s touch beautifully suited his task, his exquisite sounds floating deep into dreamland.
Two pieces by Edison Denisov followed, one a set of Variations for Piano, the other Pour Daniel, (Barenboim). “Fleeting” was the word summoned by Kim to describe the two pieces, entreating us to reflect on the lessons suggested for our own lives. The variations contained references to standard musical forms, but fleetingly. Pour Daniel evoked a shimmering pond, the beauty of it, again, ephemeral. Kim concluded with his own Improvisation on Dances, designed to lead us to the final work, Invitation to the Dance by Carl Maria von Weber. Kim’s improvisations recalled the composers we had just heard—themes and ideas alluded to, then broken up. And this came through his improvisational and virtuosic keyboard chops.
The concert ended with a violin/cello transcription of the Weber piano work. Kim informed us that this was the first concert waltz ever written: a programmatic piece, where we hear introduction, actual waltzing, and a dignified finish. In the transcription by (?? ??), violin and cello threw their swings by turns back and forth.
The performers’ commentary made the show quite enjoyable, yet we hope to hear the full Revere Quartet before too long.