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Another Extrordinary Sunday

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on June 25, 2017

beethovenย  espresso

My favorite Sunday morning activity is “Chatter” at Las Puertas in Albuquerque, formerly known as Church of Beethoven. The music is always different, but along the lines of chamber, symphonic, and other orchestral works; they are sometimes from centuries past or they could be more recent. It is always fascinating and enjoyable. And, being able to enjoy freshly espressed coffee is an integral part of the fascination.

My mind sometimes drifts along during the concert, and today was no exception. After hearing the poet in mid-concert, and during the two minutes of silence before the next musical performance, I was thinking about writing, probably a poem, but at least writing down a (time wise) back and forth monologue, hitting memories that bounce around in my head, a place where time is fluid. Such was briefly my plan for when I would arrive home.

Howsoever, as much as I had enjoyed the music from the first performance, which was a beautiful sextet by Richard Straus (Opus 85), played with passion and virtuosity, I was astounded by the second half of the program: string sextet No. 1 in B-flat major (Opus 18) by Johannes Brahms. Notwithstanding that there were no hornsย ๐Ÿ˜€, only six stringed instruments, I was blown away.

Our local trio of musicians (David Felberg on violin, Shanti Randall on viola, & James Holland on cello) were paired up with three members of the Sybarite-5 group out of New York: Sarah Whitney, a tall, dark, passionate violinist, Angela Pickett, tightly focused on viola, and Laura Metcalf, colorfully dressed, exhibiting high intensity on cello. I noticed, or seemed to, that the women showed more emotion while playing. Whitney, although tightly focused on her music, seemed ready to cry at times, as though a sad memory kept threatening to burst though, but sometimes a smile would appear. Pickett was less expressive, but she did smile at the end of each piece. Metcalf was so intense it was entirely palpable from where I sat; I did not see as much emotion on her face as Whitney, but she was clearly enjoying herself, and satisfied with what she was playing.

Sybarite women

Whitney, Metcalf, and Pickett

The men, well, the men were just as focused, expert, and intense, but I never saw a sign of any emotion cross their faces. An odd thing to notice. It was curious, but not important to the concert. I briefly wondered if female musicians are able to multitask memories, emotions and intense playing of music, more so than male musicians who are focused on getting ‘er done right?

At any rate, the Chatter/Sybarite Mash-up was intense and electrifying.ย  I was nearly jerked around in my seat by the changes in intensity. The music would swell and fade, and change and pop, and reverberate in my head while the musicians gave us their all. The symbiosis of these six expertly played instruments was intensely pleasurable. I’ve heard amazing things at Chatter Sunday before, but this, this just blew me away. Nor was I alone: applause is usually reserved for the end of a particular piece, no matter the stops between movements, but the four parts of the Brahms string sextet each received applause from those who could not hold back until the end. When the concert was concluded, people jumped to their feet with thunderous applause. It was not the usual sort of slow rising by a few, then more, then all; everyone jumped to their feet as the last note fell away.

I like many types of music, as long as it is played with passion. The Chatter musicians and members of Sybarite did not disappoint. They played their hearts out, and gave all of us there assembled an uplifting start to what would have to be a great day.

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