<< -- 2 -- Kelly Ferjutz 3, 2, 1 ... PIANO!
The Misses Naughton (identical fifteen-year old twins from Milwaukee, Wisconsin) are students of Mr Babayan at the Cleveland Institute of Music, and opened the concert by joining with Mr Sheffer (playing the part of the mother) in Mozart's elegant and graceful Concerto for Three Pianos K242 in F, written for a lady and her two daughters. Dressed in identical red gowns, the young ladies were also completely in sync with each other, right down to head and arm movements. They are unquestionably very talented as they demonstrated in the various styles in which they performed during the afternoon.
Then, after one piano was removed from center stage, they were the brilliant co-soloists in Carnival of the Animals by the French composer, Camille Saint-Saëns. Many listeners are familiar with the verses by Ogden Nash that add a bit of verbal cheekiness to the musical sections. Mr Sheffer thought these were perhaps a bit dated, so he embarked on a web-crawl looking for newer, more appropriate comments to preface the musical descriptions of various animals. Presented in his droll manner, they were indeed entertaining. Among those he quoted were Voltaire, Mark Twain, Emily Dickinson, Maggie Thatcher, Groucho Marx, Henny Youngman, Dmitri Mitropoulos, Oscar Wilde, Jelly Roll Morton and Muhammad Ali.
Animals represented were lions (they roared!); chickens (Thatcher's comment: 'Cocks may crow, but hens lay the eggs'); horses; tortoise (slow, dreamy music); elephants (gorgeously depicted by the three lady bassists); kangaroo; fish (limpid and languid); donkey (the violins were eloquent in their hee-haws); cuckoo (charming clarinet); birds (seductively portrayed by the flute); pianists (playing endless, frustrated scales); fossils (xylophone); swan (the most famous of all the melodies, given a silken rendition by the four cellists); and finally -- humans. This is a wonderful piece that benefits greatly from being seen as well as heard. It's much easier to appreciate the virtuosity of the pianists, to be sure. The young ladies displayed maturity and expressivity along with their capability.
They were given a rousing accolade, and responded with a segment of the spirited Scaramouche by the more recent French composer, Darius Milhaud.
Copyright © 8 February 2005
Kelly Ferjutz, Cleveland USA