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Thursday, July 04, 2013

Money and Music

Financial Un-Independence Dept.: As we celebrate what’s left of our freedom, looking back wistfully on a Fourth Amendment that has become a mere memory, let’s remember that (unless you’re an automaton, plugged into commercial so-called culture) celebrating the arts comes at a price. It’s a challenge now; it was a challenge in 1984, when I wrote the review below.


THE SPENCERTOWN CHAMBER MUSIC Series Gala Concert traditionally offers a distinguished artist and a post-concert reception. The idea is to make up (through high-priced tickets) some of the money lost on the other concerts of the summer season. As every concert-goer knows, one of the grimmer realities of the music world is the lack of financial support.

Lydia Artymiw
How they fared financially at Spencertown, we don’t know. Artistically, Saturday evening’s gala was a splendid success. Pianist Lydia Artymiw presented a program that demonstrated her impressive talents and interpretive maturity. Artymiw, a student of Gary Graffman and a winner of many prestigious awards, has been dividing her time between concert and chamber music performances. For Saturday’s concert she chose music by Mozart, Schumann, Debussy, and Chopin.

A sonata by Mozart can become the sore thumb in an otherwise romantic program: played too romantically it loses its perkiness, yet a too-proper interpretation can make it seem trivial against the subsequent warhorses. Ms Artymiw found an effective voice for the Sonata in B-flat, K. 281, by bringing out the playfulness of the piece. She played the lyrical phrases like the little arias they are, interrupting them with the witty, contrasting phrases so characteristic of Mozart.

Robert Schumann’s Fantasy in C, op. 17, is laid out like a sonata but colored with the composer’s longing for his then-distant beloved Clara, and reflective also of Schumann’s admiration for Beethoven, whom the piece was written to honor. Filled with massive arpeggios behind the sweeping themes, it’s the sort of piece that must have sent Clara into a swoon. Artymiw let out all the stops in the first two movements, pulling back for the thoughtful finale. She is an exciting pianist who also manages to be as subtle as necessary.

The subtlety came to the fore in Debussy’s Images, Book 2, with its musical descriptions of bells, moonlight, goldfish, and so forth. The Polonaise-Fantasie, op. 61, by Chopin brought the concert to a virtuosic close. She played short works by Sibelius and Mendelssohn as encores.

It should be noted that Artymiw played this concert for a reduced fee to benefit the fine series that the Spencertown Academy hosts, and her belief in the concerts being presented should be a good example to for any audience in search of good things to see and hear.

– Albany Knickerbocker News, 3 July 1984

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