As appeared in the HERALD, Randolph, Vermont. August 27, 2009.
NYC Critic Impressed by Chamber Concert
By Peter Goodman
It's been many years since I actually wanted to write a review. Decades spent in concert halls, museums, stadia and other places where music is presented have worn out my fingers and, unfortunately, dulled my senses.
In short, I was the kind of guy who would say, "Rats, gotta go to another opening at the Met tonight." (Tongue not completely embedded in cheek.)
But Saturday's Central Vermont Chamber Festival concert at Chandler Music Hall had me babbling by intermission. When Peter Sanders told his listeners from the stage that they don't know how lucky they are, he was dead right. Except that I think they do know how lucky they are. He's lucky, too.
Not only was the performance (of three good works, if not masterpieces) exceptional, but it had an exceptional audience. One could tell from the silence. And from the sense of smiles at particularly witty passages in Moritz Moszkowski's ebullient little Suite. From the complete stillnesses between movements---no rustling, no coughs, no shifting in seats or crackling of candy wrappers.
Chandler itself is a gem of a hall, understated and beautifully balanced. It was obvious that people were listening very closely, and for good reason. Chamber music is a conversation, and Saturday's discussion was on the highest level.
Of the three works on the program-the aforementioned Suite, Op. 71, for two violins and piano, Erno Dohnanyi's Serenade, Op. 10, for violin, viola and cello, and Felix Mendelssohn's Piano Quartet in c minor, Op. 1-the first was the most fully formed and the third the most promising. By the time of the Suite, Moszkowski was a composer in complete control of his medium. Listeners could easily follow the flow of thought, especially as advanced by violinists Arturo Delmoni and Adela Pena and pianist Jeewon Park.
Dohnanyi may still have been finding his own voice at the time of the Serenade, but it was already rich and romantic. Violist David Cerutti and cellist Sanders joined Delmoni in a warm, sometimes gorgeous interpretation.
Of the Mendelssohn Piano Quartet, written when he was 13, suffice it to say that there are flashes of beauty and moments when he's reaching beyond his grasp. Park's pianism sparkled, though Pena's sweet tone did not carry as well as it needed to.
Quibble, quibble---stop being a critic, already.
Here's the point:
In the lobby afterward, a woman wearing an open cast from ankle to thigh on her left leg was overheard explaining how that happened: "I had just chased the coyote from the chickens, and the ground was uneven. And I was tired from using the chainsaw and climbing on and off the tractor."
You're not likely to hear that in the lobby at Alice Tully Hall.
(For many years Peter Goodman was a music critic for Newsday and New York Newsday. He is the author of "Morton Gould: American Salute" (Amadeus), and is currently an assistant professor of journalism at Hofstra University, Hempstead, N.Y. )