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A Musical Feast in Artvoice

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Russian-born pianist comes to A Musical Feast by Jan Jezioro in today's Artvoice.

The next A Musical Feast concert on Friday, March 14 at 8pm, in the Peter & Elizabeth C. Tower auditorium of the Burchfield Penney Art Center on the Buffalo State Campus, will feature the Buffalo debut of pianist Dmitri Novgorodsky.

Born into a musical family in Odessa, Ukraine, Novgorodsky won the First Prize at the Kazakhstan National Piano Competition at the age of 16 and later the Gold Medal of the National Festival of the Arts. After graduating from the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory with high honors, Novgorodsky immigrated to Israel in 1991, before going on to earn several degrees from Yale, including doctor of musical arts in piano performance. After teaching at several institutions of higher learning, he joined the SUNY Fredonia School of Music as an assistant professor of piano in the fall of 2012, while continuing an active touring career as a performer.

Johann Sebastian Bach composed three sets of keyboard suites that acquired popular nicknames during the 19th century—the Italian Suites, the French Suites, and the German Suites—based on the different national dances that predominated in each set. While each of the sets is well represented in recorded performance, for reasons unknown, none of the six individual partitas that make up each set of suites has appeared in a local piano recital program in many years, making Novgorodsky’s programming of the Partita No.5 in G Major, BWV829 from the composer’s German Suites particularly appealing.

Writing in the Neue Zeitschrift, no less influential a critic than composer Robert Schumann called Mendelssohn’s Piano Trio No. 1 in D minor, Op. 49 “the master trio of the age, as were the B flat (“Gassenhauer”) and D major (“Ghost”) trios of Beethoven and the E flat trio (D.929) of Schubert in their times.” Novgorodsky will be joined by BPO associate principal cellist Feng Hew and her husband, BPO violinist Sheh-Jian Tsai in a performance of Mendelssohn’s first piano trio, one of the most melodious gems of the piano trio repertoire. During the course of the work’s composition, Mendelssohn’s friend and fellow composer Ferdinand Hiler advised him to incorporate some of the then advanced piano technical effects found in the works of Chopin and Liszt, resulting in a virtuosic piano part, particularly in the first movement.

Daniel Bassin, music director of the UB Symphony Orchestra, will lay down his baton and take up his trumpet for a performance of Morton Feldman’s A Very Short Trumpet Piece. Rounding out the eclectic program, UB percussionist Tom Kolor will be joined by Fredonia State percussionist John Bacon in a performance of minimalist composer Steve Reich’s 1972 work, Clapping Music for Two Performers.

Tickets are $20 general admission, $10 for students and Burchfield Penney members.

Shakespeare and Brahms at UB

On Sunday, March 9 at 5pm, the UB Symphony Orchestra will open its spring season at Slee Hall under the baton of its young, dynamic music director Daniel Bassin in a concert being billed as Shakespeare—East and West. Two selections from Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story, the Overture and the Mambo, will flank the Buffalo premieres of a pair of Shakespeare-themed orchestral masterworks by Czech composers. While it is somewhat surprising that Bassin will be leading the Buffalo-area premiere of Bedrich Smetana’s 1858 tone poem Richard III, based on the Shakespeare’s popular history play, it is much more surprising that he will also present the area premiere of the popular Antonin Dvorak’s tone poem Othello. Admission to this event is free.

In a 2011 Gramophone magazine interview, Steve Reich, the iconic minimalist composer who is currently one of the darlings of the avant-garde classical music world, said, “Brahms is a great composer—his invertible counterpoint at the 12th is, like, really fantastic—but I don’t want to hear a note of it, not now, not later, not ever. Same thing for Mahler, Wagner, Sibelius. If it all disappeared tomorrow, I wouldn’t even know.” The classical musical world will just have to wait a hundred or so years to find out if the modestly self-effacing Reich’s currently fashionable music will still be performed as often as it today, or even at all. Luckily for the rest of us, classical musicians of the highest caliber are still more than happy to perform the music of Brahms, as witness the all-Brahms UB faculty recital on Thursday, March 13 at 7:30pm in Slee Hall. Cellist Jonathan Golove, pianist Eric Huebner, violinist Yuki Numata Resnick and violist Virginia Barron will combine in various ways to play the Violin Sonata No. 3 in D minor, Op. 108, the Piano Trio in B Major, Op. 8 and the Piano Quartet in C minor, Op. 60.

Tickets are $10 general admission, $5 for students. Visit for more information.