Tuesday night found Charles Haupt, the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra's retired concertmaster, and his some of his friends hosting another "Musical Feast," an event co-sponsored for the first time by David Felder and his associates at the "Robert and Carol Morris Center for 21st Century Music" at the University at Buffalo.
Although it was "A Musical Feast," the program began when Max Wickert read a selection from his new verse translation of Torquato Tasso's 16th century epic poem "Gerusalemme Liberata [The Liberation of Jerusalem]." After the intermission, the second half of the program started with a further excerpt from Wickert's translation.
While the text was important from a musical standpoint, having influenced Franz Joseph Haydn, George Frederic Handel and a host of other composing notables, Wickert's performance lacked the clarity a good actor would have brought to the performance.
On the other hand, the musical portion of the evening was, as a rule, quite solid. First up was Felder's "Rocket Summer," a relatively short piano piece from 1983, which was played by Paolo Cavallone and filled with interesting, hard-edged musical textures and rhythms.
The pianist is a composer in his own right, studying composition with Felder at UB, and he followed up "Rocket Summer" with one of his own scores, "Confini (Borders)." This is one of those pieces with avant garde effects (plucking the piano strings, playing body percussion) similar to those frequently heard during the yearly June In Buffalo Festivals that Felder oversees at UB.
Violinist Charles Castleman and pianist Claudia Hoca ran through an edgy, somewhat rough hewn version of Claude Debussy's Violin Sonata before Castleman came back on stage to give the sixth of Eugene Ysaye's virtuoso sonatas for solo violin (op. 27, no. 6), a rigorous, exciting performance.
The first musical notes in the concert's second half came from the blessedly talented soprano, Tony Arnold, who, with Hoca accompanying her performed songs from 19th century Austrian composer Hugo Wolf's "Goethe Lieder" and "Morike Lieder." Arnold's take on "Im Fruhling" and "Auf ein altes Bild," two songs from the latter folio, were a wonderful blend of vocal skill and the composer's own emotion packed score.
Haupt, Hoca and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra's associate cellist, Feng Hew, closed out the evening's program with a performance of Felix Mendelssohn's Piano Trio no. 1, op. 49.
"A Musical Feast"
Tuesday night in Kavinoky Theatre.