ARTVOICE, November 8, 2007
By Jan

When former Buffalo Philharmonic concertmaster Charles Haupt retired after almost four decades with the orchestra in 2006, he headed neither to a rocking chair nor to points south. Besides continuing his duties as a member of the faculty of the prestigious Eastman School of Music in Rochester, Haupt decided to establish a new chamber music series that he called "A Musical Feast." The series makes its home in the Kavinoky Theatre of D'Youville College on Porter Avenue in Buffalo. The debut concert in March of 2006 was followed by a second concert in October and a third concert last January. All events were of such a high caliber that the next scheduled concert—on Tuesday, November 13, at 8pm—is eagerly anticipated.

With his decades of experience both in Buffalo and as the former concertmaster of the Mostly Mozart Festival at Lincoln Center for 21 years, Haupt has the personal connections to line up the very best musicians for his series, with a core group being joined by distinguished visitors, for programs that are always interestingly designed. Tuesday's program, dedicated to words and music, is described as being a journey into a labyrinth, and features a reading by a poet, a first for the series.

The poet Max Wickert will begin both halves of the program by reading selections from his new verse translation of the late 16th-century Italian poet Torquato Tasso's epic poem The Liberation of Jerusalem. The epic, which deals with the conquest of Jerusalem by European knights during the First Crusade, was wildly popular among European readers during the 17th and 18th centuries, not least for its romantic episodes, which were tinged with a growing feeling for women, a new development in the 16th century. It has been claimed that "Tasso's great invention as an artist was the poetry of sentiment." Wickert, an emeritus UB English professor, is a widely published poet who is also a spokesperson for the Buffalo Art Keepers, a group dedicated to the establishment of both transparency and accountability in the management and conservation of the art collection of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. The Oxford University Press will publish his translation of The Liberation of Jerusalem in 2008.

David Felder's Rocket Summer, an early work for solo piano based on the first chapter of Ray Bradbury's Martian Chronicles, is a mini-tone poem that musically depicts the temporary return-to-summer effects of the fiery blasts of a rocket exhaust on an Ohio winter landscape, before fading to the final word printed in the score: "FROZEN!"

Paolo Cavallone, the pianist in Rocket Summer, will also perform Confini, his own composition for solo piano.

One of the many pleasures of the annual June in Buffalo Festival is attending the afternoon performances of works by "emerging" composers and hearing works by unknown artists that are often far more intrinsically interesting, memorable and enjoyable than some of the compositions performed by the "senior" composers, i.e. the big names at the festival. There were numerous examples of this phenomenon at this past year's event, a particular delight being the performance of Scendero a patti by Paolo Cavallone. His setting of a text from War Variations by the mid 20th-century Italian poet Amelia Rosselli vividly conveyed a sense of the intense life experiences of the author who lost her father, a hero of the resistance, to assassination when she was only seven years old. As sung by soprano Tony Arnold accompanied by a group of four instrumentalists conducted by Christian Baldini, the generally soft vocal treatment of the words with a wide range of sounds and effects was heightened by the use of a megaphone at a couple of points, bringing another unworldly quality to the piece. Cavallone's Confini, very much a performance piece, sounds equally interesting, with the pianist choreographing an enactment both in and on the piano, using his own physical body to suggest the "ghost/metaphor of a tango dancer."

Soprano Tony Arnold will sing five selections by Hugo Wolf, three from the Morike Lieder and two from Goethe Lieder. While Arnold is a nationally recognized interpreter of 20th century and contemporary music, she displayed a remarkably refined sensibility to the lieder tradition in a Beethoven and Schubert recital at Slee Hall last spring. Her interpretation of these late 19th-century songs by Hugo Wolf should be enhanced by the sensitivity of her piano accompanist, Claudia Hoca. For more than a few years past, it was relatively easy to identify the two finest classical pianists in Buffalo. It was always more difficult to say which of the two was the best. With the recent departure of Stephen Manes for California, it is safe to say that Claudia Hoca sets a standard to which all other local pianists will have to aspire.

Hoca will also be accompanying violinist Charles Castleman in Claude Debussy's final work, the rhapsodic Sonata for violin and piano, written when the composer was suffering from the advanced cancer that ended his life. Castleman will also offer the second installment in his transversal of the challenging 1924 Six Sonatas for violin solo, op. 27 by the great Belgian violinist Eugene Ysaye. The Sonata No.6 from this set makes very effective use of the Spanish dance known as the habanera, transcending any hint of the salon music treatment often associated with this dance.

Claudia Hoca returns, along with violinist Charles Haupt and BPO associate principal cellist Feng Hew, for the final work on the program, Felix Mendelssohn's Piano Trio no.1, op. 49 . This is one of Mendelssohn's most popular chamber works, perhaps only rivaled by the Octet, and it contains the kind of tunes that listeners will find themselves humming on the way home.

This performance of a Musical Feast is the first to be co-sponsored by the Robert and Carol Morris Center for 21st Century Music at the University at Buffalo. The next Musical Feast performance, also co-sponsored by the Center for 21st Century Music, will feature a performance of Stravinsky's L'Histoire du Soldat under the baton of the dynamic young conductor Christian Baldini. The January 29 concert at the Kavinoky will also feature clarinetist Jean Kopperud in the "Abime des oiseaux" movement from Olivier Messiaen's Quatuor pour la Fin du Temps.

Tickets are $25, seniors $20, students $10. For more information visit .



Made possible by the generous support of

Irene Haupt, Photographer

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