Music of the Spheres Society
(Music of the Spheres Society Website)
Iconoclasts of the Early 20th Century
Brian Connelly, Piano
Stephanie Chase, Violin
Jon Manasse, Clarinet
At Christ & St. Stephen’s Church
120 West 69th Street
New York, NY 10023
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
April 24, 2014
Sonata for violin solo, op. 115, Composed by Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953), Moderato, Andante dolce, Con brio.
Largo for clarinet, violin, and piano, s. 73, Composed by Charles Ives (1874--1954).
Sonata for clarinet and piano, op. 167, Composed by Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921), Allegretto, Allegro animato, Lento, Molto allegro.
Sonata no. 1 for violin and piano, sz 75, Composed by Béla Bartok (1881-1945), Allegro appassionato, Adagio, Allegro-Allegro-molto.
The Music of the Spheres Society, founded by Stephanie Chase in 2001, has as its mission the promotion of classical music, with lectures and chamber concerts, to highlight the philosophical, historical, and scientific foundations of music. The concerts are held in the charming Christ & St. Stephen’s Church, on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, a very European ambiance with stucco, stencils, and stained glass. Tonight’s concert featured Ms. Chase on violin, Brian Connelly on piano, and Jon Manasse on clarinet. Ms. Chase has appeared with the Chicago Symphony, London Symphony, and New York Philharmonic, and she teaches at NYU’s Steinhardt School of Culture. Mr. Connelly is a guest with new music groups and has premiered new compositions by William Bolcom, David Diamond, and Karim Al-Zand. He’s also a scholar and performer of historical instruments and has appeared around the globe on 18th and 19th century rare pianos. Mr. Manasse has appeared in solo performances at Lincoln Center and Columbia University and also appeared with the Mostly Mozart Orchestra. He is also principal clarinetist of the American Ballet Theatre Orchestra and was the principal clarinetist with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra.
Stephanie Chase’s Prokofiev Sonata for violin solo exuded mastery and dynamism. Even young children in tonight’s packed audience were mesmerized. The “Moderato” was plaintive and poignant, before the Sonata proved festive with rhythmic phrases. Soon rapid, racing musicality ensued with windy refrains. Ms. Chase modulated tone and volume with nuance and texture. This event is akin to a salon, with a casual informality, and with friends and community in supportive spirit. The Ives Largo for clarinet, violin, and piano was atonal, rapturous, and yearning, with Mr. Connelly’s piano adding esoteric phrases. Mr. Manasse’s clarinet was eerie and edgy, with Ms. Chase’s violin holding final notes on whispering, disappearing strings. The Saint-Saëns Sonata for clarinet and piano was exquisite. Mr. Connelly’s piano added depth and chordal echoing in background and in interludes, with the “Allegretto” almost filmatic in tone. Energized, quasi-balletic melodies followed in the “Allegro animato”, while the “Lento” was magnetic and eloquent. The “Molto allegro” brought out Mr. Manasse’s virtuosic clarinet solos, entrancing and enticing.
The final Bartok Sonata for violin and piano was presented after the intermission, and it commanded acute attention. It opened with strong emotionality and captivating musicality, in the “Allegro appassionato”. The “Adagio” featured Ms. Chase on a very expressive violin, mournful and introspective. Mr. Connelly’s Yamaha led the violin into continuity and rephrasing of his theme, as he shifted from single notes in treble to bass. The “Allegro-Allegro molto” reached frenzied proportions, with undulating piano trills, feverish string attacks, and a wild finale. Kudos to all.