Visions of sublimity
LAWRENCE BUDMEN listens to
Yefim Bronfman and the American String Quartet
Few composers epitomize the romantic era like Johannes Brahms (1833-1897). His glorious melodies, dark, surging writing for the lower strings, and reverence for composers of the past (Bach, Handel) made him a pillar of the late nineteenth century. (Hungarian folk music often permeated his works.) Brahms's deeply felt instrumental writing and profusion of beautiful melodies (combined with a rigorous sense of musical form) was an inspiration to such diverse composers as Dvorák, Martucci, Sgambati, Reger, and Hindemith. Brahms's Quintet in F Minor for Piano and Strings Op 34 (1864) is one of the true gems of the chamber music repertoire. The Friends of Chamber Music of Miami opened a new concert season with a magnificent performance of the Brahms quintet -- the crowning glory of a terrific program by the American String Quartet on 15 December 2003 at the University of Miami Gusman Concert Hall.
Guest artist Yefim Bronfman is one of the most brilliant and musically probing keyboard artists on today's music scene. Whether capturing the magisterial peaks of Beethoven, the subtle pathos of Mozart, or the sweeping Russian melancholia of Rachmaninoff, Bronfman's performances are unforgettable. His Brahms did not disappoint. From the first softly sonorous piano tones, Bronfman played with a fierce passion that was riveting. His dazzling virtuosity and sweeping tonal palette made the music truly live. Yet the gentle melodic grace of the Andante, un poco Adagio was beautifully filtered through a delicate array of musical shadings and colors. Bronfman evoked visions of the sublime! The demonic energy of the Scherzo: Allegro was breathtaking! Bronfman evoked the entire spectrum of vigor and fury in the Finale: Poco sostenuto. Here was music making of incredible passion and intensity. Performances on this extraordinary level are extremely rare. Bronfman is a great artist!
Copyright © 20 December 2003
Lawrence Budmen, Miami Beach, USA