Chamber Music at The Barns at Wolf Trap is a special treat for those of us who remember what music appreciation used to imply before enormous venues and well-dressed audiences prevailed. An intimate setting and a relaxed atmosphere is a welcome antidote to the hustle and bustle of traffic and work. WETA broadcaster Rich Kleinfeldt was the impresario/host here. He is known to local and national audiences as the host of the syndicated radio program, Center Stage from Wolf Trap with Bill McGlaughlin.
Cellist Nicholas Canellakis and pianist Michael Brown are a recital duo as well as individual prize winners. Among many other distinctions, Canellakis is an artist of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and Brown is a soloist with the Lincoln Center’s Chamber Music Society Two.
Canellakis is also a composer whose works have been performed at Ravinia, The Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall. They are frequent performers at major music festivals and such New York venues as Bargemusic and the performance space Barbe(‘)s. The New York Times called Michael Brown, “one of the leading figures the current renaissance of performer-composers, ” while his tribute to his partner Canellakis is to call him “my Rastropovich.”
First on the program were Beethoven’s Sonata for Piano and Cello in G minor, Op. 5, No. 2 and Shostakovich’s Sonata for Cello and Piano in D Minor, Op. 40. Both were performed passionately and with much joy.
Canellakis made some interesting remarks about the political implications of Shostakovich’s innovations during the early Stalinist period. Apparently Shostakovich could more easily take risks with music intended for smaller venues. Contemporary audiences must have heard condemnation of the government through inflections of despair or references to traditional melodies. Today they have different associations or at least are seen purely as artistic metaphors.
After intermission an impressive composition by Michael Brown entitled Five A.M, inspired by a poem by Allan Ginsberg, was performed. Chopin’s beautiful Sonata for Cello and Piano in G Minor, Op. 65 followed. A Bulgarian Traditional ended the fabulous concert with Daichovo Horo, and was definitely well characterized as a “virtuoso piece.”
Preceding the Concert was presentation of a YouTube comedy series called Conversations with Nick Canellakis, a series of satirical interviews with stars of the classical music world. These videos can be found on Nicholas’ website and Michael’s website as both performers are interested in multi-media and music education.
What a display of talent, and much to look forward to in the future.