Friday, February 13, 2009

 

Rosenthal does it all...


Paul Rosenthal once again brought his violin and the Sitka Summer Music Festival's Winter Concert series to town last night. Joining him were cellist Armen Ksajikian and pianist Arnulf Von Arnim. Arnulf and Armen have played here with the festival before, but not together. I was sure pleased to hear them again. Paul and Arnulf started off with Paul's composition "Bravura Variations on 'Alaska's Flag'" which he premiered 25 years ago in honor of our state's then 25th anniversary. This was followed by one of Mendelssohn's "Song Without Words: 'Sweet Remembrance'". Armen then joined them to present Beethoven's "Piano Trio in E-flat Major". The concert concluded with the intense "Piano Trio in G minor" by Bedrich Smetana. For an encore they were persuaded to play another short piece by Mendelssohn.

I really liked the intimate informal setting; and their relaxed banter with one another and even with the small-but-appreciative audience. What better way to celebrate the 200th birthday anniversary of both Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin* than to listen to this group celebrate the 200th anniversary of this particular Piano Trio by Beethoven?

I got a chance to talk with Armen for a few moments after the concert. Around his neck he wears a wooden carving with his initials, "AK", on a chain. He said it was given to him by the maker of his cello - it's from the same piece of wood; it can be also be used as a mute. I mentioned to Armen that I was a late-starting student of the cello, and that my trio partners had also been present. He said he doesn't get to meet very many cellists in the smaller towns on this tour, but was glad to hear there was even a trio here. He mentioned that we should arrange with the Festival people for him to sit in with us for a session next time he comes to town!! How cool would that be?




* I looked around on the internet - unsuccessfully - for some type of analysis comparing the impacts of these two giants of history who happened to share a birthday.

Comments:
Armen is a gem! He's a friend of mine (I'm an L.A. based cellist) and he's always got time for a joke or a hug.

And he's a *fantastic* musician - you should hear his Rachmaninoff sonata -- Oh...My...God!!

:-)
 
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