The month of May marks the high water mark of the Lane Series concerts in Vermont, yes, even among the numerous spectacular concerts in this season that had been scheduled by Jane Ambrose and company-to wit, a recent, brilliant program of duets by Soovin Kim, violin, and Ieva Jokobaviciute, piano; this event brought the audience to its feet several times to record their satisfaction with both the music and in particular with the performance of the music.
A late work by Schubert, Rondeau Brilliante in B Minor D895, was the only composition of the evening which edged close to the more traditional function of the piano as accompanist.
I found the Rondeau not so interesting musically, but its uniqueness in the canons of Schubert's musical output can certainly cause the concert-goer to expect some performances of it.
More to the point was the Sonata for Violin and Piano by Debussy, a gorgeous example of impressionistic music and of parity between players. The panels of sound, programless, let them speak for themselves, and a dialogue between piano and violin was a natural outgrowth of the flow of the music per se and did not need any words for meaning. It was a glorious representation of all of Debussy's linkage to impressionist paintings and the poetry of Apollonaire
Natalie Neuert asked us to sit for a moment while recognition was made of Jane Ambrose for 23 years of service as president of the Lane Series. The gift to her was a composition titled Wild Ambrosia for violin and piano by Pierre Jalbert, a composer who grew up in Burlington. The composition was based on a four-note theme that grew out of her last name (in German). The work is not just another dedicatory composition, for like Ambrose herself, the work is clear structurally and it develops naturally and meaningfully. The work received a stellar performance.
One copy of the Labert score will be placed in the UVM music librar, and Ambrose will receive the other (Neuert announced that this was the first of three commissions that the board had funded, the other two being due in each of the next two seasons).
After intermission, the concert concluded with two quite disparate compositions: Five Melodies, Op. 35 of Prokofiev and the Violin Sonata in G Major, and Op. 96 ("1812...").
Prokofiev achieved a great deal in the pieces and every nuance of the pieces came through in the performance.
Beethoven's Sonata opens with a violin trill that is answered by the piano and then it is repeated in reverse order. From that exuberant start, the entire four movements sprang forth in uncompromisingly happy music, which the performers realized perfectly.
Musicmaking of this caliber seldom comes to us live, and when it does, I hope we all realize the rarity of such perfection. It makes me even more eager for the second instalment of the Lake Champlain Chamber Music Festival, the brochure for which was included in the Lane Series program.
In accepting the appointment as president of the Lane Series, Neuerrt takes on a huge responsibility; she has worked most closely with Ms. Ambrosia for a number of years.
The board will have to work together with the same fervor that they exhibited under Jane Ambrose's presidency, and the announcement that in addition to Wild Ambrosia two other commissions have been requested-once for each of the next two seasons-is hopefully the vision for the future. (Then, too, the liaison with all the representatives of the artists who have come through Burlington and especially the Van Cliburn winners will have to be maintained.)
The first time I saw Ambrose on the stage of the Redstone Recital Hall, she read from a book written by Gottschalk, the 19th century pianist and composer; there's was a description of the first Episcopal bishop of Vermont's musicianship and his musical sons and that is how she remains in my memory-the epitome of scholarship and enthusiasm rolled into oan irrepressible entity who lit up every room in which she found herself. She will be missed.
Burlington resident Dan Wolfe observes and critiques the local arts scene for The Eagle. His column appears weekly.