It is a battle of egos, the tie between a teacher and a pupil: a fiercely competitive, love-hate, dictatorial-democratic, push-and-pull give-and-take. When it fails, it is a tragedy. When it succeeds, it is a joy to see. Most, if not all there would have agreed. I did. Oct. 24’s piano recital at Shoreline Community College succeeded big time.
On the same stage, for close to two hours, those who teach and those who were taught performed works by the nineteenth century’s big guns: Schumann — Clara, that is; delicious Debussy; Schubert the renegade; the usually overlooked Scriabin; mighty Rachmaninoff; and, of course, the never-to-be-forgotten, smooth-as-silk Ravel.
The recital’s emphasis was on romanticism, that marvelous breakthrough from classicism to music as we know it today. Its sharing and caring was in the mix and match of individual styles. Its energy was public, personal and positive.
Teacher of musical theory and composition, Jeff Junkinsmith’s interpretation of Schumann’s “Four Fleeting Pieces” released the lovely, muted rapture of a musically gifted mother of eight’s selfless devotion to her family.
Debussy’s pioneering uses of parallel chords, tonalities and unprepared modulations without harmonic bridges, all in service to matchless melodies, swelled to intellectual as well as artistic life, courtesy of Jensina Byington and Ludmila Udodik. Byington and Udodik supported “En bateau from Petite Suite’s” passion with close-to-complete control of the technicalities, which was no small feat.
However, it was Ann-Marie Caldwell’s exquisite sensitivity that brought out Debussy’s extraordinary lyrical sense. Caldwell on the keyboards was pure feeling.
Academician and highly regarded performer Helena Azevedo’s feel for the elegance in Scriabin’s ethereal qualities came close to realizing the usually elusive intent of “Two Poems, Op. 32.” Scriabin is one tough nut to crack.
It probably took most of Byington and Junkinsmith’s vast knowledge and performing experience; but by Franz, they got out just about all of Schubert’s iconoclastic, romantic, turbulent, at times orderly temperament. Their way of doing the “Fantasie in F Minor” propelled me into realm of wild, lovely imaginings. Bravo, Byington and Junkinsmith.
Rachmaninoff is never the size of life. He is always bigger than and was so represented.
As intended, Azevedo, Lisa Serova and Uliya Ustemchuck made Rachmaninoff’s “Waltz in A Major for piano trio” the grandest, most sweeping waltz of all time. Imagine: six hands busy, busy every second, just staying out of each other’s way, let alone fingering the lightning fast changes in rhythm and sound so as to make musical sense of a waltz. Yet, that, these three did to please, and please they did.
Ravel’s fascination with musical influences, in particular from Spain and the Middle East brought this entire, uplifting affair to an appropriately convivial finish. The work was Ravel’s famous “Spanish Rhapsody” as performed by husband and wife duo from Lynnwood, Asta and Dainius Vaicekonis. It is intricate and technically difficult, oftentimes requiring both pianists to reach over and under one another’s hands.
It took some doing, but the Vaicekonises developed the exotic, culturally unique influences of far off peoples into the general, overall feel of oneness that Ravel had in mind. I can’t conceive of anyone leaving without a better sense of our human family: past, present and future.
Public education, it is a good thing.
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