Monday, May 22, 2017

Juilliard Senior Piano Showcase

I have to confess that I had not originally planned to attend Thursday afternoon's piano recital at Paul Hall.  As temperatures climbed to record breaking levels, however, I decided nothing would be better than listening to great music at an air conditioned venue. 

The pianists at Thursday's recital were all member of Juilliard's class of 2017.  I've seen pretty much all of them in performance at one time or another over the past few seasons and greatly admire their talent.  At this recital it seemed each had deliberately chosen for a farewell performance the most challenging works he or she could find.  The recital lasted almost two hours, so there was sufficient oppurtunity to appreicate the fine playing of each musician.

The full program was as follows:

  • Schumann - Fantasie in C major, Op. 17, I. Durchaus fantastisch und leidenschaftlich vorzutragen, performed by Sarina Zhang
  • Brahms - Klavierstucke, Op. 117, Intermezzo in A minor and Intermezzo in A major, performed by Yandi Chen
  • Beethoven - Sonata in D major, Op. 10, No. 3, I. Presto, performed by Mathew Maimone
  • Chopin - Three Mazurkas, Op. 59, performed by Randy Ryan
  • Schubert - Sonata in C minor, D. 958, II. Adagio, performed by Jae Young Kim
  • Adès - Darknesse Visible (inspired by John Dowland's 1610 song In Darknesse Let Mee Dwell), performed by Gabrielle Chou
  • Chopin - Barcarolle, Op. 60, performed by Akari Mizumoto
  • Ligeti - Étude No. 13, L'escalier du diable ("The Devil's Staircase"), performed by Joey Chang
  • Kapustin - Piano Variations, Op. 41, performed by Tristan Teo
  • Liszt - Funérailles from Harmonies poétiques et religieuses, S. 173, performed by Mackenzie Melemed
  • Moszkowski - Valse Brillante, Op. 88 arranged for eight hands, performed by Joey Chang, Akari Mizumoto, Gabrielle Chou and Sarina Zhang 

The two works I most enjoyed hearing were Ligeti's Étude and Moszkowski's Valse.  The former was one of eighteen composed by Ligeti in his final years (he had intended to write even more but was unable to finish the series due to declining health) and are now considered to be among his greatest achievements.  I'd first come to appreciate the composer after having heard his famous opera Le grand macabre and began searching out performances of his other works.  Originally inspired by his fellow Hungarian Bartók with whom he shared a deep interest in his Balkan folk music, Ligeti grew increasingly eclectic after having fled his homeland following the 1956 Revolution and once arrived in Cologne began to experiment with advanced techniques taken from a variety of sources.  For example, in discussing his first book of Études, Ligeti gave as his inspiration both piano music from the Romantic era as well as ethnic sub-Saharan music characterized by pounding rhythms.  Certainly, the Étude No. 13 played at this recital contained strong percussive elements.  It was also a virtuoso showpiece that was here given a bravura performance by Joey Chang.

Moszkowski's Valse Brillante was a scintillating work.  The arrangement for eight hands performed at this recital allowed the proceedings to end on an upbeat note and also provided a musical image of the strong feeling of comradeship shared among the graduating pianists.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Juilliard Chamber Music Performed by Pre-College Ensembles

Almost all the many chamber music recitals I've attended at Juilliard have been performed by musicians at the undergraduate or graduate level, but those in the pre-college division are also extremely talented, prodigies in fact, and their performances are well worth taking the time to hear.  Earlier this week, at Alice Tully Hall, several ensembles from this division gave a lunchtime recital, the last in this season's Wednesdays at One series, that featured works by a number of composers.  In order to fit in everyone at this hour-long recital, most performances were limited to single movements of much longer pieces.

The full program was as follows:

  • Schumann - Violin Sonata No. 1 in A minor, Op. 105, I. Mit Leidenschaftlichem Ausdruck, performed by Yun Shan Tai, violin, and Chanel Wang, piano
  • Fauré - Après un rêve (here arranged for piano trio), performed by Qing Yu Chen, violin, Max Bobby, cello, and Youlan Ji, piano
  • Shostakovich - Piano Trio No. 2 in E minor, Op. 67, IV. Allegreto - Adagio, again performed by Qing Yu Chen, violin, Max Bobby, cello, and Youlan Ji, piano
  • Mozart - String Quartet No. 14 in G major, K. 387, IV. Molto allegro, performed by Kevin Zhu and Nathan Meltzer, violins, Joshua Kail, viola, and Sebastian Stoger, cello
  • Piazzola - Invierno Porteño ("Winter in Buenos Aires), performed by Megan Yao, violin, Sara Scanlon, cello, and Huan Zhang, piano
  • Brahms - Piano Trio No. 1 in B major, Op. 8, IV. Allegro, performed by Amy Oh, violin, Esther Yu, cello, and Youlan Ji, piano

The two works that were to me most notable, if only because less familiar, were the Fauré and the Piazzola.  The former was one of Trois mélodies, Op, 7, a trio of pieces written by Fauré between 1870 and 1877 for solo voice and piano and published as a single work in 1878.  This particular selection used as its text a poem by Romain Bussine that was itself derived from Niccolò Tommaseo’s 1841 Canti popolari, the appropriate section of which begins, "Levati sol che la luna è levata." Though Bussine's poem itself is quite passionate, Fauré's short piece is much more ethereal and the dreamer's ardor greatly subdued.  As for Piazzola's tango, this was a transcription of the last of his Cuatro Estaciones Porteñas, originally composed for violin, piano, electric guitar, double bass and bandoneón. It didn't have the lively drama one would normally expect of a tango but instead captured the loneliness of the season it portrayed.

It was very intriguing to hear the young musicians at Wednesday's recital.  For most of them, this was probably the first occasion on which they'd performed before such a large audience and yet all of them were entirely self-possessed and fully in control as they played the extremely challenging pieces listed above.  It never ceases to amaze me what a wealth of talent Juilliard has to offer on all levels to those who attend its musical events.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Jupiter Players Perform Donizetti, Kotzwara, Wolf and Schumann

On Monday, the Jupiter Players performed their final recital of the season at Good Shepherd Church on West 66th Street.  The theme of the recital was Divine Madness and the ensemble accordingly performed a number of works by  composers whose lives had been tinged by mental illness - Gaetano Donizetti, Frantisek Kotzwara, Hugo Wolf, and Schumann.  Personally, I don't believe that it was at all appropriate to build a musical program around the anguish these individuals suffered, and I most likely would not have attended had I realized beforehand the implications of the stated title.  As it was, the selections themselves were for the most part highly accomplished and enjoyable to hear; they are the legacy of genius these poor men left behind.

The program opened with Donizetti's Larghetto in C major for flute, bassoon and piano (c. 1819).  It was for his bel canto operas, of course, that Donizetti gained immortality.  After the retirement of Rossini and the premature death of Bellini, Donizetti became, at least until the advent of Verdi, the premiere opera composer in Europe.  In spite of this success, he came to a terrible end.  His health broke down and he was afflicted by severe mental illness as a result of having contracted syphilis; he spent his last years in a sanitarium before dying in 1848 at age fifty.  The works he left behind included not only the magnificent comic operas L'Elisir d'Amor and Don Pasquale but also great historical works such as the three "Tudor" operas staged last season at the Met.  Donizetti composed a number of instrumental works as well, but these are not nearly so well known nor are they often performed.  The present trio, apparently composed when Donizetti was first beginning his career in Bergamo, is such an obscure piece that I could not find any reference to it even on the IMSLP site, the first time I can remember that having happened.  For all that, this was a pleasing work filled with operatic overtones.  Several of the passages could easily have been transformed into arias.

The Larghetto was followed by Six Minuets, WoO 9 (c. 1795) by Beethoven, arranged here for two violins and cello.  The lack of opus number would indicate that the composer himself did not hold these dance pieces in the highest regard.  Thoroughly correct but strangely lifeless studies of the Classical minuet, they were not particularly impressive examples of Beethoven's apprenticeship to Haydn.

The next work was Wolf's Intermezzo in E-flat major for string quartet (1887).  Hugo Wolf was another musical misfit.  Temperamentally unable to hold a job for very long, he was often despondent and so ill humored in the reviews he wrote that he was nicknamed the "Wild Wolf."  Like Donizetti, he died prematuresly from syphilis after first having suffered a mental collapse.  A disciple of Wagner, his music often, as in the present piece, sounds surprisingly in advance of its time.  Unlike the far more popular Italian Serenade, the Intermezzo moves uneasily from the melodic to sudden harsh outbursts.  A review in The Strad describes it well: "Sometimes grim but often powerful music from a troubled late Romantic."

The first half of the recital then ended with a performance of Kotzwara's The Battle of Prague, Op. 23 for piano with violin, cello, and drum (1778).  Kotzwara is one of those shadowy musical figures most often described as "colorful."  A Czech by birth, he somehow ended up in London where he eked out a living by composing simple chamber works for amateurs.  He also apparently supplemented his income by passing off his own compositions as works by Haydn.  Wolf is remembered today for only two things.  The first is The Battle of Prague itself, a lively piece commemorating the 1757 battle between Prussia and Austria-Hungary; it contains a number of sound effects as well as quotes from Rule Brittania and Turkish marches and was an extremely popular piece of music in its day, an unlikely favorite of Jane Austen.  The second thing for which Kotzwara is remembered is, rather unfortunately, his unusual manner of death.  In the course of a tryst with a Westminster prostitute, Kotzwara had the dubious distinction of becoming the first recorded case of death by auto-asphyxiation.

After intermission, the musicians returned to close the program with Schumann's Piano Quintet in E-flat major Op. 44 (1842).  In an earlier post, I compared it to the Piano Quartet, Op. 47 and wrote as follows:
"In general, and to oversimplify, the Quintet has a bigger sound that is at times almost symphonic while the Quartet is a more intimate work. The Quintet's opening movement, marked allegro brillante, is designed to impress the listener while the funeral march that follows is the very essence of Romanticism. And at the end is the vibrant finale that is among the finest chamber movements Schumann composed during his short career. In addition, this is the first major piece to pair the piano with string quartet, and Schumann deserves credit for having established with it a new musical genre. It was Mendelssohn, filling in for an ailing Clara Schumann, who premiered the work at a private gathering and his suggestions led Schumann to make a number of revisions before the public premiere (at which Clara did play), but the honors are all due to Schumann himself."
Schumann himself succumbed to madness in 1854 after first having attempted to drown himself in the Rhine.  He died two years later while still institutionalized.

In spite of the morbid theme, the performances at this recital were excellent. The musicianship, including that of the two guest artists - Alexander Kobrin piano, and Josef Spacek violin - was of the highest level.  The Jupiter Players' programming is often too obscure for my taste, however, and for that reason I attended far fewer performances this season than last.  I believe programs should be well balanced in the sense that they contain pieces familiar to the audience (and not in the transcriptions for other instruments that are routinely presented here) combined with those that are not so often performed.  On the other hand, the ensemble has a very loyal following who are quite enthusiastic no matter how little known the works played may be, so perhaps the fault lies with me rather than with the company. 

Monday, May 15, 2017

Juilliard Chamber Music: Bruch and Tchaikovsky

Yesterday marked the end of this season's Sunday afternoon chamber music series at Morse Hall.  As usual, programs were not posted in advance, so I took my chances and went to the 1:00 p.m. recital hoping for the best.  It was a lucky choice.  I ended up hearing excellent performances of two great works, one by Max Bruch with which I'd previously been unfamiliar and the other a long time favorite by Tchaikovsky

The program opened with Bruch's Eight Pieces, Op. 83 (1910).  By the time he died in 1920 at age 82 Bruch was the last of the German Romantics and widely celebrated as such.  Unfortunately for his musical legacy, however, one of his best known works, Kol Nidrei, consisted of variations on Jewish themes.  This was enough to have his music banned by the Nazis even though Bruch himself was not of Jewish origin.  His repuation never recovered from the damage done to it during this period and he is now remembered almost solely for his Violin Concerto No. 1, still a staple of the orchestral repertoire.  Exactly how unfair this was to such a talented composer becomes evident when listening to the Eight Pieces.  Originally written for clarinet, viola and piano, the work was later transcribed for other instruments by Bruch himself and at this performance a violin was substituted for the clarinet part.  Bruch was seventy when he wrote the Eight Pieces - he considered them discrete entities rather than movements comprising a single composition - and in their mellow tones and nostalgic sensitivity they are clearly autumnal works very much in the spirit of Brahms's own late clarinet pieces written for Richard Mühlfeld.  And Bruch too had a particular clarinetist in mind when composing them, in this case his son Max Felix whose talent was compard favorably with that of Mühlfeld.  My own favorite among the eight is the fifth, marked "Rumanische Melody," that was included at the suggestion of the Princess zu Wied to whom the entire work was dedicated.  This is an andante in F minor, the only one of the eight to include a traditional folk tune, in which the violin first soars before joining the piano and viola in a melancholy conclusion.

The musicians were Manjie Yang, violin, Chien Tai Wang, viola, and Jiaqi Long, piano; the coach was Jonathan Feldman.

After a brief five-minute intermission, the program closed with a rendition of Tchaikovsky's Piano Trio in A minor, Op. 50 (1881-1882), the only piece that the Russian master composed in this genre.  It was his patron Nadezhda von Meck who convinced him to attempt it.  After first complaining that he could not "endure the combination of piano with violin or cello," Tchaikovsky finally brought the work to a successful conclusion.  But then, rather than dedicating the work to von Meck who had inspired it, Tchaikovsky instead dedicated it to the memory of Nikolai Rubinstein who had died several months before.  This was all the more surprising in that Rubinstein had famously rejected Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1 before reconsidering and eventually conducting the work.  Still, Rubinstein had been an early champion of Tchaikovsky's music and had hired him when he was still an unknown to teach at the Moscow Conservatory.

The structure of the trio itself is highly unusual.  It consists of two long movements.  The first, pezzo elegiaco, opens with a cello solo and contains a beautifully lyrical theme and funeral march that could well be considered the epitome of Russian Romanticism.  The second movement is a set of twelve variations and coda that at the end repeats the mournful theme from the first movement.  

The trio was revised extensively after Tchaikovsky returned from Rome where he had written the piece, and it was finally given its public premiere at the Russian Musical Society with Sergei Taneyev playing the piano part. 

The work was performed yesterday by Yujie He, violin, Ana Kim, cello, and Yandi Chen, piano; they were coached by Sylvia Rosenberg and Julian Martin.

The level of musicianship at any Juilliard performance is always extremely high, but even by those standards the playing at yesterday's recital was exceptional.  Both trios were performed with a professionalism that more established ensembles would do well to match.  It was gratifying that these Morse Hall recitals should end on such a high note.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Met Museum: Three Exhibits Closing Soon

I went recently to the Met Museum to see three small exhibits that will be closing in the next few weeks.  Although only one of the artists, Georges Seurat, is well known to the public, the works on view by Hercules Segers and William Chappel were also well worth seeing.

The introductory material on the museum's website goes to a great deal of trouble to impart an air of mystery to Seurat's large canvas, Parade de cirque ("Circus Sideshow"), the centerpiece of the current exhibit.  It reads, in part:.
"Ever since its debut in Paris in 1888, Circus Sideshow has intrigued, confounded, and mesmerized its viewers. Seurat's closest associates were largely dumbstruck. The laconic artist was as silent as his brooding masterpiece."
Looking at the painting, though, it seemed to me fairly straightforward work when one takes into account the pointillism that characterized the artist's style.  The painting merely shows a group of musicians lined up on stage facing the audience with the circus master and a clown off to one side.  True, the low key lighting does partially obscure the scene, but it is after all set at night under gaslight.  Still, the painting is such a masterpiece that one cannot complain of the museum's decision to devote an entire exhibit to it.  And just as fascinating as the painting itself are the preparatory drawings displayed beside it.  These include Une Parade, Trombonist, Pierrot and Colombine, Forte Chanteuse, and At the Divan Japonais, all executed with conté crayon on extremely rough textured paper.  There are also posters and circus paintings by Seurat's contemporaries, but with the exception Grimaces and Misery - The Saltimbanques by Fernand Pelez these are of only slight interest.

The exhibit continues through May 29, 2017.

Before having seen the Met's current exhibit, The Mysterious Landscapes of Hercules Seger, I had never heard of  the artist and was completely ignorant of his work.  That should not have been the case.  Seger was a more than competent artist and stylistically well in advance of the early sixteenth century period in which he lived.  As the museum's website notes:
"Rejecting the idea that prints from a single plate should all look the same in black and white, he produced impressions in varied color schemes—painting them, then adding lines or cutting down the plate."
Several examples of the same image are often juxtaposed in order to provide the viewer a better idea of the manner in which Segers manipulated the etching process.  As one passes among them one realizes that the most striking of the graphic works are those employing the "lift-ground" process.  The paintings show an equal mastery of technique.  Completely out of place, though, is an oil on canvas entitled Skull on a Ledge that is attributed to Segers for no apparent reason.  The naturalistic style of this painting is jarring when set against the more traditional style of the other works on view.

The exhibit continues through May 21, 2017.

Pity poor William Chappel, the nineteenth century New York artist whose name doesn't even merit a Wikipedia entry and whose work, as shown in the current exhibit City of Memory, has been consigned to a small gallery in the American Wing mezzanine that's almost impossible to find even with map in hand.  Not much is known of Chappel, who was a tinsmith by trade, and the dates he created his paintings and his reasons for doing so are entirely a matter of conjecture.  Personally, I think he was simply nostalgic for the New York City of his childhood that had already largely disappeared by the time he reached late adulthood.  The small format paintings he left behind, all of them oil on slate paper, are so simple that they might well be characterized as naive art.  These idealized depictions - the streets are clean and devoid of traffic, and there's no crime or poverty to be seen - show New Yorkers going about the most commonplace activities.  There are chimney sweeps, night watchmen, garbage haulers, and even a fire brigade, all set against backgrounds, such as the Bull's Head Tavern, that no longer existed by the time Chappel came to paint them.  City residents today, seeing the constant development and construction going on everywhere about them, can easily sympathize with Chappel's desire to return to simpler times.  

The exhibit continues through June 25, 2017.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Juilliard Chamber Music: Ravel, Busoni, Herzogenberg, Grieg and Schubert

After having heard the first half of the 1:00 p.m. recital, I returned to Morse Hall later Sunday afternoon to hear the 5:00 p.m. recital, one of the longest I've attended this season.  The program lasted almost three hours and featured works by Ravel, Ferruccio Busoni, Heinrich von Herzogenberg, Edvard Grieg and Schubert that are not so often performed, at least not that I've heard recently here in New York City.

The program opened with a pair of works for two pianos that were both composed at roughly the same time, Ravel's La Valse (1919-1920) and Busoni's Duettino concertante nach Mozart, BV B 88 (1919) that's based on the final movement of Mozart's Piano Concerto No.19 in F major, K.459.  Of the two works, it was the Ravel piece that was by far the more captivating.  Ravel excelled at orchestration - what he accomplished with Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition is breathtaking -  but the reduction of La Valse is, if anything, even more jarring and exciting than the orchestral version.  Although the composer vehemently denied that the piece was in any way a reflection of Europe's postwar malaise, it's impossible to accept Ravel's earlier claim that it was intended as a tribute to Johann Strauss II, the Waltz King himself.  That may have been the original intention when Ravel first conceived the idea in 1906, but his service driving a munitions truck at the front as well as the death of his beloved mother, plunged him into so profound a despair that one wonders if he may not actually have been suffering from a form of PTSD,  Certainly, there is little here of the graceful Viennese waltzes one hears on New Years Day.  Instead, the piece always makes me think of the off-kilter sounds one might expect a broken music box to produce.

The two pianists were Chaeyoung Park and Salome Jordania; their coach was Matti Raekallio.

The next work was the Trio for Oboe, Horn and Piano, Op. 61 (1889) by Heinrich von Herzogenberg, a composer with whose work I'd previously been unfamiliar.  A professor of composition at the Berlin Hochschule, Herzogenberg is best remembered today for his friendship with Brahms.  He was in fact a great admirer of the Viennese master, but unfortunately the latter never held Herzogenberg in equally high esteem.  Judging from the present work, that may have been a mistake.  The four movement trio is definitely a very competent work that displays throughout traces of Brahmsian classicism handled in an adept manner.  The unusual combination of instruments also adds to the work's considerable charm.

The trio was performed by Russell Hoffman, oboe, Harry Chin-Pong Chiu, horn, Chang Wang, piano, and was coached by Julian Martin and Erik Ralske.

The trio was followed by Grieg's String Quartet No. 1 in G minor, Op. 27 (1877-1878).  This was the only quartet completed by Grieg - a second was left unfinished at his death - and it's really a masterpiece that sounds much more modern than its date of composition would indicate.  Grieg had previously put to music a poem by Ibsen entitled Spillemaende ("Fiddlers"), and he used this song as the "core motive" in the quartet.  It continually strives for a soaring orchestral sound that caused many early critics to find fault with it to the extent that Grieg's usual publisher, Peters, at first refused it.  After that, Grieg considered reworking it into another chamber form, but was convinced not to do so by Robert Heckmann whose ensemble had premiered the piece.  The quartet did have its admirers, however, including both Liszt and Tchaikovsky, and is today one of the few Nordic pieces to have a permanent place in the repertoire.

The musicians on this piece were Annika Jenkins and Mira Yamamoto, violins, Jordan Bak, viola, and Jan Fuller, cello; they were coached by Ronald Copes.

After a brief ten-minute intermission - the recital had already lasted 90 minutes by this point - the program concluded with Schubert's Octet in F major, D. 803 (1824).  The work was commissioned by Ferdinand Troyer, chief steward to Archduke Rudolph, one of Beethoven's most important patrons.  It was inspired by Beethoven's Septet, by then almost a quarter century old but still, to the master's chagrin, by far his most popular work.  Schubert for the most part adhered to his model's six movement structure and instrumentation but added a second violin to provide an even richer texture.  As Troyer was an expert clarinetist, Schubert made sure to give that instrument a prominent part in the composition.  Like its predecessor, the Octet is an enjoyable melodic piece that incorporates themes from the composer's lieder.  It's in the tradition of the Classical divertimento but of a far more serious nature.  Running a full hour in length, it demonstrates great complexity in the interrelationships among the eight instruments and in that sense can be seen as a preparatory study for the Symphony No. 9 composed the following year.

The eight musicians were Kenneth Liao and Lyly Li, violins, Stephen Goist, viola, Mariko Wyrick, cello, Sheng Yao Wu, bass, Alec Manasse, clarinet, Thomas English, bassoon, and Nathaniel Silberschlag, horn; their two coaches were Fred Sherry and William Short.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Juilliard Chamber Music: Bartók and Franck

I only stayed for the first half of this Sunday's 1:00 p.m. chamber music recital at Morse Hall but still had the opportunity to hear two excellent works, one by Bartók and the other by Ravel.

The program opened with Bartók's Contrasts for clarinet, violin and piano (1938).  Though one normally pictures Bartók as an ethnologist trudging through the Hungarian countryside with primitive recording equipment, he was at the same time a well-traveled, internationally acclaimed composer as well as a virtuoso pianist.  It really shouldn't come as any surprise then that the present work was the result of a commission from Benny Goodman, one of the world's most celebrated clarinetists.  Though best known for the swing music that had made him famous, Goodman became interested in the classical repertoire in the late 1930's after having recorded the Mozart Clarinet Quintet with the Budapest Quartet, and he subsequently commissioned a number of works from renowned composers, including Francis Poulenc, Aaron Copland and Leonard Bernstein.  In this instance, he made use of the offices of  violinist Joseph Szigeti (for whom Bartók had already written in 1929 his Rhapsody No. 1) in order to approach the composer.  As first written, the piece consisted of only two movements, Verbunkos ("Recruiting Dance") and Sebes ("Fast Dance") . After that version, entitled Rhapsody, had had its 1939 premiere at Carnegie Hall - at which Goodman and Szigeti performed with pianist Endre Petri - Bartók added the middle movement, Pihenő ("Relaxation").  The complete work was then performed in 1940, again at Carnegie Hall, by Goodman and Szigeti with Bartók himself this time taking the keyboard part.  The music is lively and exciting.  It's derived, like much of Bartók's output, from elements of Hungarian and Romanian folk music but at the same time it incorporates elements of jazz in Bartók's own distinctive style

At this recital, the work was performed by Ziyao Sun, violin, Noemi Sallai, clarinet, and Shuaizhi Wang, piano; they were coached by Charles Neidich.

The second work was César Franck's famous Violin Sonata in A major (1886), here arranged for cello by Jules Delsart.  It's worth noting that this was the only transcription approved by Franck and that in some editions both Franck and Delsart are given credit on the title page.  The commission for the new work was not issued by Franck's publisher Hamelle, as was usually the case with transcriptions, but was instead granted by the composer himself in response to a personal request from Delsart.  The fact that Delsart was not only a highly respected cellist but also taught with Franck at the Paris Conservatoire no doubt inclined Franck to give his permission.  The piano part was kept the same as in the original work and for the most part Delsart simply transposed the violin part to the cello's lower register.

I had just heard the sonata in its original version for violin last month and had posted my thoughts on it at that time.  Having had a chance to hear both versions performed so closely together, I was able to compare them and decided that, if anything, I preferred the cello transcription over the original.  Though the work is a masterpiece in either case, I felt the cello's lower register created a more pleasing sonority.  That's only my opinion, of course, and I doubt many violinists would agree.

The musicians at this performance were Benjamin Fryxell, cello, and Ariana Körting, piano; their coach was Earl Carlyss.

Scheduled for the second half of the recital was Schumann's Piano Quintet.  It's an undeniably great work, but since I'd already heard it several times this season and am likely to hear it again next week I decided to skip it on this occasion and instead return to Morse Hall later in the afternoon to hear the full program at the 5:00 p.m. recital.