Chamber Music: Method to Madness

Austin Chamber Music presents “Method to Madness”

featuring works by Bach, Beethoven (my favorite!), Brahms, and current cellist & composer, Clancy Newman.  As you might have guessed, they had me at Beethoven.  We donned our fancy shoes, and headed out for a little date night.

The Program

Cello Suite No. 2 in D Minor | Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
Sonata for Cello and Piano in D Major, Op. 102, No. 2 | Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)*

INTERMISSION

Sonata for Cello and Piano in F Major, Op. 99 | Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)
From Method to Madness | Clancy Newman (b. 1977)

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Featuring Clancy Newman, cello | Michelle Schumann, piano

Pianist, Michelle Schumann, introduced the first three pieces.  However, for Beethoven’s Sonata for Cello and Piano, she had a hilarious story to explain why we wouldn’t hearing the piece listed in the program.  When Newman and her met to practice the performance, Schumann was sitting at the piano waiting for him to look ready to start.  She finally prompted, “Would you like to play the first chord with me?”  To which, Newman replied, “no.” After the audience’s laughter died down, Schumann says she glanced over Newman’s shoulder to see he was looking at a very different piece of music.  It turns out she had been quite keen on the number two and had spent much time practicing Op. 2, No. 2.  Without enough time to practice Op. 102, No.2, the duo had decided to perform Beethoven’s cello sonata Op. 5, No. 2.  It turned out to be a delightful!

When I read the title Method to Madness, I assumed it was a commentary on the works as a whole.  Artists often have the reputation of losing it in the end, so I assumed we would be hearing works that descended into madness.  However, the concert was given the name of Newman’s original work.  He was asked to compose a piece that would be used in a competition for young cellist.  There were requirements regarding length of the piece and techniques that needed to be employed, but even with constraints on the creative process, Newman pulled off a lovely piece. The opening had a touch of enchantment, the ragtime interlude brought a smile to my face, there was a hint of romantic and then a straight dive into “madness” that was impressive and fun.  Below is a recording of a 2012 performance:

 

Overall, while lacking in granduer, the utilitarian church brings an intimacy with its small size; Schumann and Newman put on a wonderful performance of classics and closing out with the more modern, fun piece put a light hearted touch on the end of the evening.

You can keep in touch with the Austin Chamber Music at @Austin_Chamber

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