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This article by Nicole Plett was prepared for the June 18, 2003 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Beethoven’s Musical Marvels

As Musica Viva Music Festival completes its inaugural

year, director Robert Taub is attuned to today’s performing arts audiences

and their curiosity to know all they can know about the arts they

love. Concluding the festival season is a two-day music and discussion

event billed as a "Beethoven Extravaganza," Friday and Saturday,

June 20 and 21, at the Clarke Music Center of the Lawrenceville School.

"Planning these programs has been wonderfully invigorating,"

says Taub. "We’re playing some old favorites, but infusing them

with fresh life, and we’re also offering great works that many might

not have been played quite so frequently. We’ve called many friends

to play on these programs, and I’m sure everyone will have a great

time. The orchestra is terrific, consisting of some of the best musicians

from New York." Taub himself has performed, recorded, and written

a book on the complete Beethoven Piano Sonatas, notably during his

extended arts residency at Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Study.

His friends include none other than Scott Burnham, author of "Beethoven

Hero," recently re-issued in paperback by Princeton University


Interpreting Beethoven became a flourishing enterprise in the 1990s

when New York’s Carnegie Hall held its first symposium on Beethoven’s

piano sonatas. Princeton’s Scott Burnham became something of a roving

Beethoven ambassador, speaking at the Met, the "Y," and Carnegie

Hall. In person, as in his book, Burnham tries to abstain from taking

sides on the hot issues of musical interpretation. "I’m on record

deploring the fact that we’re in camps about musical interpretation,"

he told U.S. 1’s Elaine Strauss. "I think I have a meaningful,

interesting way of talking about music," he says. "But `correct’?

— No."

The festival opens with a Chamber Music concert on Friday June 20

at 8 pm, featuring the C minor String Trio (Patrick Wood, violin,

Thomas Rosenthal, viola, Alistair MacRae, cello), a group of five

songs (Judith Bettina, soprano, Robert Taub, piano), and Taub playing

the "Moonlight Sonata." The second half features the

Quintet for Piano and Winds (Eric Huebner, piano with members of the

Musica Viva Festival Orchestra).

Festivities resume Saturday at 1:30 p.m. with a series of three informal

events in Behr Hall in Clarke Music Center on the Lawrenceville School

campus. First, Robert Taub will lead a discussion and demonstration

entitled "Piano or Fortepiano: That is the question!" At 2:45

p.m. two Lawrenceville music students will join the professionals

in an informal chamber music concert. Noelle Clarke ’05, cellist,

will perform the Sonata for cello and piano in A major with Taub.

This project was begun in the Lawrenceville School’s chamber music

course. Next Tanya Wisnant ’05, violinist, collaborates with Wood,

Rosenthal, and MacRae in a performance of the rarely-heard string

quartet transcription that Beethoven made of his own Piano Sonata

Op.14, No. 1.

At 4 p.m., Scott Burnham presents a pre-concert talk focusing on the

evening program.

The 8 p.m. concert opens with the dramatic "Coriolanus" Overture,

followed by the beloved Pastorale Symphony.

"This is Beethoven’s only programmatic symphonic work, and describes

through music the feelings that one might experience first by going

out to the countryside, then being by a brook, in a storm, and in

the clearing after the storm," says Taub.

The concert concludes with the Fourth Piano Concerto, with Jeffrey

Milarsky conducting the Musica Viva Festival Orchestra, and piano

soloist Robert Taub.

This is not the first collaboration between Taub and

Milarsky. Both are proponents of new music, and Milarsky is tympanist

in Taub’s recording of the Sessions Piano Concerto (with The Westchester

Philharmonic and Paul Dunkel, conductor) on New World Records. At

the January 2003 Musica Viva concert series, Taub and Milarsky collaborated

with other colleagues in a performance of the Bartok Sonata for Two

Pianos and Percussion. This concerto performance, however, will mark

the first time that they have worked together as soloist and conductor.

Nicole Plett

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