Sunday, February 20, 2011

Diana Cohen & Friends (Musical Suprise Concert, First Unitarlian Church of Cleveland

Haydn: Piano Trio No. 39 in G major, Hob. XV/25*
Schumann: Trio #2 in F major, Op. 80*
Mozart: Quintet for Clarinet and Strings, K. 581**
*- Trio Terzetto: Diana Cohen, violin; Tanya Ell, cello; Reanna Gutman, piano.
**- Diana Cohen, violin; Franklin Cohen, clarinet; Kirsten Docter, viola[1]; Mark Kosower, cello; Nathan Olson, violin.

Last year I found myself eavesdropping on assembled guests exchanging remembrances of Ms. Lynette Diers Cohen in the narthex before the sanctuary opened for seating; this year upon arrival, I found no one waiting in the narthex but the delicious sounds of musicians warming up wafting out through cracks in the doors. Peering through the portals in the doors and seeing several people seated in pews and with the nod of a church volunteer I seated myself and eased in to the wonderfully calm, meditative state that hearing musicians warm up so often lulls me to.

I found interesting the amount of time spent with the piano and pianist -- should the top of the piano be closed, half- or fully- opened? Can you hear my right hand? Too much left hand? I suppose it only makes sense, however I have to admit to having viewed the piano as much more of a "plug and play" instrument and the small glipmpse of effort involved to come up with a sound as beautifully satisfying was certainly eye opening.

In remembering her mother, Diana Cohen described the program as "happy music" and on that note I agree. As the outside temperature dropped, the warmth and clarity of the music inside only increased; as I'm writing this I'm still not sure that it's possible to choose a favorite from the program.

Haydn's Piano Trio was intoxicatingly happy; from the first notes it was difficult to resist the urge to just close my eyes and smile and that feeling stayed with me throughout. The number of notes compressed into the Rondo a l'Orgarese Presto and the speed with which they were played felt a bit like a runaway train, yet unlike a runaway train these musicians retained complete control throughout.

Schumann's Trio #2 gave Ms. Ell's cello the variety that the Haydn trio withheld; the result was the most soulful and introspective piece on the program. The balance between the three instruments left nothing to be desired and there was a lovely theme developed by Ms. Cohen's violin in the second movement.

It was announced that the musicians had donated their services for the concert, and the money gathered from the free-will offering at intermission would go toward planting a memorial garden at Cain Park. Mr. Cohen eloquently, and aptly, made the metaphor of being "planted" in Cleveland 35 seasons ago and being proud to live in a community where he is not only able to grow -- nurtured by an extremely supportive community and colleagues -- but where he can help others to grow.

During Mozart's clarinet quintet the sight of snowflakes falling caught my eye through the frosted glass windows of the sanctuary; like watching snow fall from the comfort of a living room fire raging in the fireplace, the beautiful warmth and subdued joy of the music couldn't help but to make this listener feel good.

[1] The program identifies Ms. Docter as a violinist, however I can say with virtual certainty that the instrument she was playing was not a violin.

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