Search This Blog

Sunday, January 13, 2013

A Musical Money’s Worth

From the Vault Dept.: Last weekend, David Finckel and Wu Han returned to Union College’s Concert Series to play Brahms’s Cello Sonata in E Minor and, with Finckel’s former fellow Emersonian Philip Setzer, a pair of Dvořák piano trios. It was wonderful work. It was practically a full house. Yet there was a time when these artists were still making names for themselves, as this very old, very superficial, very brief review attests. (I’m guessing that I wrote something longer that was cut during layout, but, as it predates my computer ownership, the original was typewritten and driven into Albany.)


WITH THE “NAME” ARTISTS pricing themselves beyond the reach of budget-conscious halls and patrons, the Schenectady Museum-Union College concert series is a better investment than ever. It always finds very talented performers who aren’t so widely known.

David Finckel and Wu Han
In the case of last Saturday’s concert, you got more than your money’s worth: There was a pre-concert recital by pianist Wu Han playing music of Bach, Beethoven and Chopin. During the concert proper, she was joined by cellist David Finckel (from the Emerson Quartet) for an exciting trip through the repertory for those instruments.

Finckel began his part of the evening with Bach’s Suite No. 2 for solo cello. A good performance of solo string music benefits greatly from the acoustics at Union’s Memorial Chapel: the notes linger long enough to fill out Bach’s abstract harmonic ideas. Finckel brought a warm romantic style to the music, without suffering the excesses of Casals, and it wasn’t merely a single-voiced warmth, for he gave special tone colors to the individual phrases of each of the movements.

Beethoven’s Cello Sonata No. 3, the most popular of his set of five, was next, and the collaboration between Finckel and Wu was electrifying. They were ferocious with Beethoven’s furious passages, yet sang his tender melodies sweetly. The key to their style was a penchant for contrast, but they fulfilled the music’s requirements without bringing extraneous stuff into their playing. Even the last movement of the Beethoven sonata, which they took a shade faster than they technically could handle, came off sounding terrific, so high was their energy level and so solid their partnership.

The second half of the program consisted of sonatas by Schumann and Britten, in Schumann’s case the three Fantasiestucke, Opus 73, which turn up in a number of arrangements but seem most lyrical on the cello.

– Albany Knickerbocker News, 8 January 1985

No comments: