| Oct 02, 2008

Oct 2/08 - Beethoven comes to Arden

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Feature Article - October 2, 2008 Beethoven comes to ArdenBy Jeff Green

Tony Stuart and Richard Hoenich.

The audience at the Kennebec hall was treated to an excellent concert last Saturday night at the culmination of the third annual Arden and the Arts.

Valerie Leavitt on piano, Tony Stuart on Clarinet, and Richard Hoenich on bassoon, played a selection of early Beethoven pieces, culminating in a performance of a Beethoven trio – opus 11, originally scored for piano, clarinet and cello.

We don’t get much chance to compare chamber ensembles within Frontenac County, but the sound of this trio was certainly a joy to hear. Aided by Hoenich’s comments, it was also possible to imagine how different the piece would have sounded with a cello instead of his bassoon.

The concert started with a piano duet, played by Valerie Leavitt and Ursula Pidgeon, which set a tone for the evening. The playing was relaxed and engaging, and you could feel the audience melting into their chairs.

Next came an early Beethoven duet, played by Stuart and Hoenich. The interplay between the two players set the stage for the trio, which was the centerpiece of the concert.

Richard Hoenich explained that he is always reluctant to play cello parts on the bassoon, because the bassoon brings a much brighter feel to the music than the cello, leaving the mood altered from what the composer may have intended, but “I don’t play the cello,” he said.

The concert ended with Frank Morgan, dressed up as Beethoven, reciting the Heiligenstadt Testament, a letter Beethoven wrote to his brothers about his impending deafness at the age of 28. The reading was accompanied by Valerie Leavitt on piano playing the Pathetique Sonata.

It was as if the reading marked the end of the softer period in Beethoven’s writing that had been featured during the evening, and the beginning of the dark, bold Beethoven works that have forged his reputation to this day.

Although the recitation was dramatic and Morgan was convincing as Beethoven, I would have preferred to stay in the mood set by the earlier playing, but there is always darkness lurking around the corner with Beethoven.

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