Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Cleveland Museum of Art: Music in the Galleries (@ClevelandArt, @CIM_Edu)

Bach: Selections from Suite No. 2 (Prelude, Courante, Sarabande, Gigue)*
Lebegue: Puer Nobis Nascituri^
Pachelbel: Der Tag Isto so Freudenreich^
Bach: Partita No. 3 for Solo Violin in E major, BVW 1006%
Paganini: Caprices for Solo Violin, Op. 1 No. 23%
Stravinsky: Elegie for Solo Viola&
Reich: New York Counterpoint for Clarinet and Tape+
at the Cleveland Museum of Art in Contemporary Art Gallery 225, East Wing

*-Annalisa Boerner, viola; ^-Paula Maust, organ; %-Boson Mo, violin; &-Ji Young Nam, viola; +-Elinor Rufeizen, clarinet

The holiday season is over and I'm back at the office -- while everyone recovers from their festivities, the beginning of January is always a bit quiet on the performing arts front. The Cleveland Museum of Art, however, is pressing along uninterrupted with the series of monthly concerts in the galleries featuring performances of Cleveland Institute of Music students.

While previous performances have been in the 1916 Building's galleries, tonight's concert moved to one of the Contemporary galleries and continued a trend of increasing attendance. The next concert, by the way is Wednesday, February 1st at 6:00 -- perhaps a fine prelude to the CIM@Severance concert on at 8pm just down the street.

Tonight's concert began with Violist Annalisa Boerner introducing her selection of four movements from Bach's Suite No. 2 -- originally composed for solo cello but "stolen" for solo viola. As Ms. Boerner began playing her suite of dances, the gallery was filled with a delightfully warm sound on a cold winter night. While I can't say I would have called the pieces dances without prompting, the emotions ranged from deep and almost sad in one movement to a passioned embrace in another and a more lively higher mood in another.

Following, organist Paula Maust returned to the instrument she played at the last concert in the galleries introducing her selections -- under the heading of "Christmas Miniatures" -- reminding the audience that this is the 11th day of Christmas. Both were delightful but had distinctly different sounds, Nicolas-Antonie Lebegue's Puer Nobis Nascitur was more evocative of the sounds of a flute than the lumbering weight of an organ. Johann Pachelbel's Der Tag ist so freudenreich, on the other hand, was unmistakably Organ-esue (Organic?) and sounded as if it would be right at home as a processional for a religious service.

Next, Bach's Partita No. 3 for solo violin played by Mr. Boson  Mo. In introducing the piece he was sure to point out that unlike the earlier Bach piece, this composition had not been stolen from another instrument and instead was originally composed for solo violin. The Gavotte en Rondeau was the most familiar piece from the program and rather happy -- fitting in nicely with the bright colors of the contemporary galleries. The Bouree was rather short by comparison but faster in tempo, and it was during this movement when the "moth to the candle" effect was most noticed as guards and patrons seemed to be gravitating toward and lingering in the music.

Mr. Mo continued with a distinctly different piece in Caprices for Solo Violin by Niccolo Paganini, without whom, Mr. Mo observed, violinists may not have had to practice as much and while this struck me as less musical than the pieces before it, it also seemed more expressive and an excellent fit for some of the more abstract visuals that surrounded  the musicians tonight.

Stravinsky's Elegy for solo viola, played by Ms. Ji Young Nam by contrast seemed out of place in its profoundly mournful mood surrounded by abstract bursts of color and energy.

Closing out the program, and the icing on a luscious cake, was Elinor Rufeizen's repeat performance off Steve Reich's New York Counterpoint for Clarinet and Tape, which was featured on the program for her recital at CIM a few weeks ago and one of the more unusual compositions I've heard. As I wrote then, "was layer upon layer of music created a polyphonic chaos that grew and subsided, ebbed and flowed: A note would build, reverberate, then decay while another note existed in the same space. Then other notes would appear and take over the stage. You could hear the sounds of the subway ... then the hustle and bustle of a crowd on the sidewalk ... then a traffic jam. All of the ambient noise you encounter in New York captured by a solo and recorded clarinet" -- while I think the gallery acoustics were a bit harsh on the sound letting ones eyes take in the art while the ears take in the music the two seemed to be perfectly matched: Explosions of layered color and notes; the twisted metal of a mangled exit stair with the distortion of a decaying note.

But neither art nor music is decaying in Cleveland.



  1. I love the way you write. The way you describe the music so that we can *feel* what you experienced. Thanks!

  2. Thanks for the encouragement & for stopping by!