By Michael Johns
Special to The Island News
USCB Chamber Music presents a concert of song, dance, and piano brilliance at 5 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 19. Pianist Orion Weiss, Artistic Director/pianist Andrew Armstrong, and tenor Daniel Mutlu will perform music exhibiting introspection, exuberance, searing romanticism, and jazzy panache.
The performance begins with a perfect opener, one of the 20th-century’s top toe-tappers: George Gershwin’s I Got Rhythm for solo piano from the 1930s musical Girl Crazy. The mood becomes more personal with the final Intermezzo and Capriccio from Johannes Brahms autumnal 7 Fantasien, Op 116. Brahms poured a lifetime of compositional craft into these packed miniatures, creating an Intermezzo that caresses with tenderness beyond words and a Capriccio that explodes with wild energy and intense expression.
Closing the first half is Robert Schumann’s questioning Dichterliebe (A Poet’s Love) song-cycle, a universally acknowledged core example of the German Romantic-period lied (song). Piano and tenor are equal partners, closely knitting together words, music, and meaning to evoke the poet’s state of mind. There is no factual story line; the poems trace a psychological progression from blissful love to disillusionment and despair.
High spirits return after intermission with Franz Schubert’s Fantasia in F minor, D. 940, for piano four-hands. Schubert compressed the four movements of a symphony into a single composition of attractive melody, surprising harmony, and warm dialogue. Morgen! (Tomorrow!), Opus 27, No. 4 is a song by Richard Strauss for voice and piano. The hopeful text has a comforting message for our time and place: “tomorrow the sun will shine again … and … to the beach, wide, wave-blue …”
All questioning is swept away with Samuel Barber’s set of six whimsical, stylish dances: Souvenirs, Opus 28 for piano four-hands. The music reveals Barber’s fondness for New York, evoking the city’s optimism and saucy swagger that Gershwin so confidently captured. Barber wrote, “Imagine a divertissement in a setting of the Palm Court of the Hotel Plaza in New York, the year about 1914, epoch of the first tangos.”
USCB Chamber Music Artistic Director/pianist Andrew Armstrong will continue his loquacious commentary and dazzling pianism while introducing two artists new to the series. Andy has regularly delighted audiences across Asia, Europe, Latin America, Canada, and the United States as a recitalist and concerto-soloist, in chamber music concerts with the Elias, Alexander, American, and Manhattan String Quartets, and as a member of the Caramoor Virtuosi, Boston Chamber Music Society, Seattle Chamber Music Society, and Jupiter Symphony Chamber Players.
Pianist Orion Weiss is a sought-after soloist who has performed with major American orchestras including the Chicago Symphony, Boston Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the New York Philharmonic. His deeply felt, lush-sounding, and exceptionally crafted performances have won him worldwide acclaim. He has an impressive list of awards to his credit and an extensive variety of chamber music collaborations with artists of the highest order including two violinists, James Ehnes and Arnaud Sussman, who have graced the CFA stage earlier this season.
Tenor and Cantor Daniel Mutlu received a bachelor’s degree in Vocal Performance from the New England Conservatory and a Masters in Sacred Music from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. Ordained as a cantor in 2008, in 2017 he was called to serve as senior cantor at Central Synagogue in New York City. In addition to sacred duties Daniel Mutlu has recorded many solo oratorio and opera roles and received glowing reviews for solo singing with the Trinity Choir Wall Street, Houston Symphony, Houston Grand Opera, and Houston Bach Society.
Experience in-the-moment creativity as the artists exquisitely balance between seeking perfection and letting go of inhibitions. Experience the thrill of being a participant in a communal event that moves across a range from complete silence to on-your-feet applause. The hall is newly refurbished. Great artists have come to perform in Beaufort. The music is attractive, intriguing, soothing, probing, and joyous. The only thing missing from the equation is you.
There are multiple ways to enjoy the concerts — In Person, Live-Stream and On-Demand. All virtual concerts are professionally produced, creating great viewing opportunities. On-Demand is accessible four days after the concert and available to view at your leisure for three weeks.
For concert/ticket information, go to www.uscbchambermusic.com or call 843-208-8246, Monday through Friday. The concert is 5 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 19, at the USCB Center for the Arts, 801 Carteret Street, Beaufort.