SUNDAY AFTERNOON IN AUER HALL
Music review: Brancart terrific in moving performance; brass played with gusto
March 26, 2013
Outside on Sunday afternoon, snow threatened. Inside IU’s Auer Hall, music beckoned.
The overlap was minimal, with flakes starting to come down just a matter of minutes before pianist Evelyne Brancart completed her masterful performance on the Steinway of supreme challenges by Beethoven, Schumann, and Chopin. Earlier, Edmund Cord and the Indiana University Brass Choir offered an intriguing lineup of works written by composers from Eastern Europe, all of which were played with gusto and very well.
Conductor Cord has become a savvy program designer, managing always to find interesting pieces for his brass players. For this occasion, he located, as a starter, four centuries-old Fanfares from Czechoslovakia. The Brass Ensemble’s trumpeters were lined up in the organ loft to send forth bold and bracing statements that set the stage for what was to follow, first an Allegretto, also labeled Fanfare, from the 1925 Sinfonietta by another Czech composer, Leos Janacek.
Cord admitted one non-Eastern European into the program mix, Benjamin Britten, who was represented by his evocative “Russian Funeral,” built on a melody used to honor those killed while protesting at the Tsar’s Winter Palace in 1905, a forerunner of the revolution to come.
A Concerto for Euphonium by the contemporary Croatian composer Vanja Lisjak not only gave faculty brass specialist Carl Lenthe a chance to show his considerable skills but made this listener yearn to hear more music by a composer new to him.
Post-intermission, Cord and his players performed a Concertino in A Minor by Shostakovich, originally written for two pianos but transcribed into a celebration for brass by Geoffrey Bergler.
So, too, one heard three perky piano pieces by Prokofiev, altered for brass ensemble. The program closed with a delights-filled Divertimento by Karel Husa, still another Czech who, however, has spent most of his adult life in the United States.
Cord and company honored the piece.
An Evelyne Brancart recital always brings promises of excitement. On Sunday afternoon, the pianist did not disappoint as she dove into three Romantic era masterworks that had her playing for an uninterrupted hour-and-a-half without benefit of scores.
She turned initially to Beethoven, his C Major Sonata, Opus 53 (“Waldstein”), a glorious work that requires the soloist to embrace both control and passion. Some of the music is calm, almost hushed, and yet laden with emotional suggestiveness.
Of course, there are developments, too, that require high-level virtuosity, these again, however, needing to be positioned carefully into a disciplined weave. Brancart accomplished the weave and fashioned a moving performance.
Speaking of passion: there was much of it required and provided for Schumann’s Sonata Number 1 in F-Sharp Minor, which the composer admitted was a love letter to Clara Wieck, the pianist that Schumann would later marry over the strong objections of her father.
This massive series of expositions, most exuberant, even flamboyant, in style, takes physical and emotional stamina to realize.
For Brancart, such efforts have never been a problem. She seems to revel in them, as she did ever so successfully on Sunday.
The pianist is an acknowledged Chopin devotee. She ended her program with his twelve Opus 25 Etudes. What can one say except that the remarkable Brancart hit not only all the right notes across their span of half an hour but all the right sentiments that inhabit these magical exercises.
She was terrific.
Copyright: HeraldTimesOnline.com 2013