Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Cleveland Museum of Art: Music in the Galleries with Gregory Fulkerson, Violin (@ClevelandArt)

Bach: Partita no. 3 in E major, BVW 1006
Bach: Sonata no. 2 in A minor, BVW 1003
Bach: Sonata no. 3 in C major, BVW 1005
Gregory Fulkerson, violin
In Gallery 20, at the Cleveland Museum of Art

I've often thought that it might be nice to bring music into the museum's galleries -- at least one Member's party for a special exhibition included the sounds of a small chamber ensemble wafting through the galleries, and I was intrigued.

But until recently that was it. Earlier this month the museum began a series that will repeat monthly bringing music into the museum's art-filled galleries. The prior outings I've had previous engagements, but I was bound and determined to make it to this session especially after a comment on a different CMA post strongly suggested attendance.

Rachel and I made our way to the museum and then to the galleries about 20 minutes before the 7:30 starting time. On our way to the gallery hosting the concert (Gallery 20 in the 1916 building, just West of the Rotunda) we ran into a guard and upon answering in the affirmative to "Are you here for the concert?" he warned "It's going to be cozy...lots of people got here before you". Closer to the musical epicenter, one of the guards I know suggested that we grab stools on the way in. The gallery was comfortably full -- just enough room to breathe, and certainly an appreciative audience.

We caught the tail end of Associate Director of Music Tom Welsh's introduction before the concert quickly got under way with the mesmerizing Partita No. 3, the first movement of which (Preludio) provided a very lively and thrilling introduction to the evening as the notes resonated throughout the gallery it was impossible not to enjoy the movement. It took me a while to figure it out, but part of the reason the movement felt so familiar is that it is one of the few classically inspired pieces on my iPod--and one I delight in listening to over and over--in the form of violinist Vannessa-Mae's Bach Street Prelude. While the Bach Street Prelude has a decidedly energetic techno flair, Mr. Fulkerson's Preludio exuded no less energy and simply came alive in the galleries.

Rachel's favorite from the evening was the Gavoette en rondeaux, the third movement from the Partita, which had a delightfully lively dance like flare.

Sonata no. 2 took things much more slowly and sensually with the first movement (Grave) being particularly sensual and the third movement (Andante) played lovingly. The second movement (Fuga) had hints that reminded me of the Partita, and overall while my ears were soaking in the sounds, my eyes were delighting in the art in ways that I've never noticed while strolling the galleries.

Ending the trilogy was Sonata no. 3 with a slow delicate adagio first movement, leading into a danceish fuga second movement, in which I resisted the urge to kiss Rachel solely and barely because we were in a fulll view of a crowded gallery. I was apathetic about the third movement (largo), my least favorite of the evening, but the program ended with the lively allegro assi fourth movement. Closing my eyes, I picked up some hints again of the preludio though transformed and less closely related than in the earlier piece.

In the end though, it was a delightful evening of wonderful music in a nearly perfect setting.


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