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by Guytano Parks

Breitman&WigginsThe first of the “Festival Events,” new to the 2013 Cleveland International Piano Competition — Competition Conversations: A HIP (Historically Informed Performance) Approach to Piano Music — took place on Thursday morning, August 1 in the Recital Hall at The Cleveland Museum of Art. Webb Wiggins, Associate Professor of Harpsichord at the Oberlin College Conservatory of Music prepared the notes discussing Baroque Elements in Performance as compared to Romantic style interpretations — with the added byline “all notes are not created equal.”

David Breitman, Director of Historical Performance at the Oberlin College Conservatory of Music joined Mr. Wiggins in this enlightening conversation as they compared approaches to music and performance practices on instruments of the Baroque and Romantic periods using instruments from the Museum’s collection. What may have at first seemed to be a rather intellectual subject aimed at serious performers, turned out to be just the opposite as both speakers clearly and congenially presented their views. Read the rest of this entry »

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by Daniel Hathaway

Oberlin-BPI-OrchestraWe could have chosen all Transylvanian music,” quipped artistic director Kenneth Slowik during the Oberlin Baroque Performance Institute faculty concert in Warner Concert Hall last Friday evening, “but we decided to go for quality: Austria.” This year’s BPI theme focused on music by composers who lived and worked in lands touched by the Danube River, with special attention to the exotic string music of Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber. In addition to his Battalia, student and faculty ensembles regaled a large and appreciative audience with music by Georg Muffat, Emperor Leopold I, Johann Joseph Fux and the young Joseph Haydn.

Though most of the repertory on Friday evening fell into the “not often played nor heard” category, Biber’s battle piece had the distinction of appearing on two area concert programs last week (it was also on the menu for ChamberFest Cleveland at Mixon Hall on Wednesday evening). This short and entertaining Baroque tone poem from 1673 depicts a motley and dissolute group of soldiers who get drunk and sing different songs at the same time, go into battle then lament their fallen fellows. An ensemble of three violins, four violas, two cellos, theorbo and harpsichord led by principal violinist Julie Andrijeski created cacophony worthy of Charles Ives and plausible battle sounds with dramatic snap pizzicatos. Read the rest of this entry »

by Daniel Hathaway

Sue Heineman, Ben Kamins & Kathleen McLean

After the prizes were handed out, the third joint concert of the weekend on Sunday evening, January 17, brought the 2010 Meg Quigley Vivaldi Competition to a thrilling and satisfying conclusion.

Sue Heineman of the National Symphony must have been a bit breathless, having flown in only that afternoon to judge the final round and play the first segment of the final concert, but none of that showed in her performance of Bach’s Partita (originally for solo flute). Heineman has incredible lungs, chops and stamina, and played with remarkable lyricism. After the Bach, she was joined on stage by Samantha Brenner, Thomas Schneider & Nicholas Cohen for George Sakakeeny’s arrangement of the Andante from Tchaikovsky’s Second String Quartet (“we refer to it as Tchaikakeeny”). This was a beautiful little piece played with affectionate lyricism and creamy tone. Read the rest of this entry »

by Daniel Hathaway

Sunday afternoon’s final round on January 17 offered a good-sized Warner Concert Hall crowd some great bassoon playing by the five finalists — as well as a couple of white knuckle moments and one session which ended abruptly when time was called. So it goes in the heat of competition.

As the audience took their seats, a special twelve member Oberlin string orchestra was tuning up under conductor and harpsichordist Webb Wiggins. The final rounds would require contestants to play the whole of Vivaldi’s 26th Concerto from memory as well as the last movement of Libby Larsen’s Concert Piece for Bassoon and Piano and a piece of each contestant’s choice. Read the rest of this entry »

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