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Boston Calls on Marlboro’s Musicians


Arnold Schoenberg by Egon Schiele

Music for Food presented Musicians from Marlboro, the two working together for the very first time, proceeds from ticket sales and donations helping those in need. Music for Food likens itself to “making beautiful food,” going beyond to serve the homeless, the sick, and financially burdened. Increasingly recognized by Boston chamber music fans, Musicians from Marlboro are noted “for offering valuable touring experience to artists at the beginning of their careers and for featuring programs of unusual as well as beloved chamber repertoire.” Their tours are presented annually here and other major cities. This past fall, the Musicians presented two programs at the Harvard Musical Association. Sunday evening’s selections of Coleridge-Taylor, Dvořák, Webern, and Schoenberg at New England Conservatory’s Williams Hall continued the revered organization’s mission with a vibrancy a loyal enthusiast has come to expect. 

Three of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s Five Fantasiestücke, Op. 5, Prelude, Humoresque, and Dance, set the fundraiser in motion, essaying the lighter sides of these character pieces, succeeding in turning attention to the instrumental writing and the quartet’s artistry. Often working in a contrapuntal fabric, a quartet of Musicians wove their lines intelligibly. A spunky determination to enliven the humor and rhythm prevailed throughout the second and third fantasy selections

Marlboro informed, having the more formalized music from London in 1895 followed by the more informalized from Prague just five years earlier in 1890. Dvořák’s Piano Trio in E Minor, Op. 90, “Dumky” would calmly and warmly invite then would erupt with unmistakable Czech folk flavor in a dancing mood through pianist Ozel, violinist Anna Göckel, and cellist Christoph Richter. These three enjoyed those catchy folksy suddenly-upon-you-movement finishers. The seasoned Richter’s sunlit vox humana still echoes the morning after as does mentee Ozel’s showing signs of the inevitable, a seasoned performer, himself to be, already conveying a formidable intimacy with the keyboard. Göckel’s accompanying roles came with a fine finish, her leading roles in the Trio noticeably strong, tilting concerto-like.

The Six Bagatelles, Op. 9, by Anton Webern of the Second Viennese School, a program puzzler stepping quite far out of its surroundings, though dating from 1910 and 1913 only some ten years coming after the Schoenberg. Interesting, if not surprising, a century later, Marlboro congregants appeared mostly disconnected—or might it have been the extreme brevity of the “trifles” some lasting a half-minute and some just over a minute and the threadlike wispiness that brought an equitable response.

Then, for another walk down the fin-de-siècle, this time Second Viennese School visionary Schoenberg’s Verklärte Nacht, Op. 4 composed in 1899 to a poem of Richard Dehmel. A string octet of Sunday’s Musicians from Marlboro drove the Transfigured Night into a darkening rapture; deep-weaving, virtual restlessness, shades of the later, seminal Pierrot Lunaire—“She looks up; the moon keeps pace. Her dark gaze drowns in light.” 30 minutes of idiomatic hyperactive string playing matching Schoenberg’s hyper-Romantic work would bring tears to some spellbound attenders being taken along through the forests by the Marlboro Musicians and finally finding peace in two cadential chords, the first ethereal, the second restful, both depicting Two people walk on through the high, bright night.

French violinist Anna Göckel enjoys the role of soloist and chamber player performing around the globe; South Carolinian and graduate of NEC violinist Stephanie Zyzak has collaborated with a slate of major artists; Taiwanese Hsin-Yun Huang a leading violist of her generation has concertized with renowned pipa player Wu Man; Jamaican-American violist Jordan Bak, an advocate for new music, has already garnered prizes and accolades early in his career; New Jersey cellist Chase Park, who Curtis on Tour brought to international stages, enjoys pursuing multiple art disciplines to reach new audiences; German cellist Christoph Richter, professor of cello at the Folkwang University of the Arts in Essen, Germany and the Royal Academy of Music in London has premiered works of Kurtág, Henze and others; and Minnesota pianist Evren Ozel studied at the Walnut Hill School and NEC and has performed with the Boston Pops.

David Patterson, Professor of Music and former Chair of the Performing Arts Department at UMass Boston, was recipient of a Fulbright Scholar Award and the Chancellor’s Distinction in Teaching Award. He studied with Nadia Boulanger and Olivier Messiaen in Paris and holds a PhD from Harvard University. He is the author of 20 Little Piano Pieces from Around the World (G. Schirmer).

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