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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’?
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
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.
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