The Bluff Stops Here

To start off the new year with a great performance, I attended the penultimate concert of David Allen Wehr’s Beethoven on the Bluff chamber music series at Duquesne University. As a student of the Mary Pappert School of Music, my commute to the event required two flights…

…of stairs from practice room to PNC Recital Hall. I arrived on grandparent time (40 minutes early represents an approximate average for my grandparents’ attendance of my own concerts) to secure a seat and was glad I did. The house was packed.

And justifiably so. Beethoven + Noah Bendix-Balgley, violin + Anne Martindale Williams, cello + David Allen Wehr, piano = full house.

The program presented Beethoven’s first three sonatas for violin and piano (Op. 12) and the two Op. 102 sonatas for cello and piano. The resulting performances were imbued with musicality and vitality. As a member of the audience, I felt, at the end of the concert, the satisfaction that follows a favorite meal at a special restaurant. As a musician and violinist, I left the recital hall with a degree of renewed inspiration. Specifically, I sought to internalize what I most admired about each performer’s playing:

…Consistency of sound quality and polish, sensitivity toward one’s chamber-music counterpart, musicality of the bow through space as it actuates the string, energy through every note, a full commitment to each sound-producing action, technical mastery of Beethoven’s “not-my-problem-if-this-is-difficult-to-play” passages…

These observations became personal “take-aways” to incorporate into my own playing.

I look forward to the next Beethoven on the Bluff concert on February 23rd at 7:30pm in PNC Recital Hall. It is the final performance of the two-year series and will feature a grand finale of cello-piano and violin-piano works.

Be sure to get there early.

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