Monday, October 19, 2009

Chamber music

I am a chamber music fan. Violins, violas, cellos, pianos, thank you, I'm done. (Exception made for the trombone, which is expertly played by one of my goddaughters...)

I've always enjoyed the intimacy of a chamber music concert and have particularly warm memories of performances I enjoyed with my Uncle Les when he and I were in Santa Fe during the summer chamber music season.

Last night, a friend and I attended my first chamber concert of the season, at Alice Tully Hall, which, if you have not yet experienced a performance at this newly refurbished venue, is a must-go. Of the four composers featured at the concert, I was familiar with three. The fourth--Erno Dohnanyi--was an excellent surprise, and, as it turns out, because of more than his music.

Dohnanyi's Quintet No. 2 in E-flat Minor was a lush, almost symphonic, piece that moved me right from the start. Although I didn't care for her work with the Brahms, the pianist Anne-Marie McDermott had us all in the palm of her hands on this one. Though I know no other performance of the piece for comparison, her delicate interpretation of the music felt like floating through wispy clouds on a warm spring day. Delicious. I will be searching for more of his compositions and her recordings.

Dohnanyi, a Hungarian, came from a distinguished family and was a very accomplished pianist and educator. His son played a pivotal role in the anti-Nazi movement in the 40's and was executed for his role in an assassination plot against Hitler. The composer himself resigned his commission from the Budapest Academy and disbanded the Budapest Philharmonic in 1941 in protest against anti-Jewish laws and propaganda.

A power of example in several spheres, it seems. And I was privileged to be introduced to his musical legacy last night.

No comments:

Post a Comment