Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Noontime Concert: Barber & Chopin

"San Francisco's Musical Lunch Break"
Celebrating Two Birthday: Samuel Barber & Frédéric Chopin
Tuesday, March 9, 2010 at 12:30pm
Old St. Mary's Cathedral

Daniel Glover, piano

Barber: Ballade, Op. 46 (1977)
Chopin: Ballade No. 2 in F/A minor, Op. 38 (1839)

Barber: Nocturne (Homage to John Field), Op. 33 (1959)
Chopin: Nocturne in B-flat minor, Op. 9, No. 1 (1830)

Barber: Excursions, Op. 20 (1944)
Chopin: Mazurka in A minor, Op. 17, No. 4 (1833)
Chopin: Polonaise in A-flat major, Op. 53 (1842)

PhotobucketThis being the 100th birthday of Samuel Barber, as well as last week being the 200th birthday of Frédéric Chopin, pianist Daniel Glover presented a nicely thought-out program pairing pieces by both composers. I appreciated getting the chance to hear the Barber pieces, which are new to me & which I now like. Mr. Glover explained that Barber's Ballade was his final composition & that it gave the composer much difficulty, & indeed the piece sounds troubled & anxious. Excursions is a bit more fun, in 4 movements, each in a different American music style, from a chugging New York boogie-woogie to a brilliant hoedown.

Mr. Glover is a focused performer & delivered the entire program from memory. I liked his clean phrasing & full sound. He seemed to find different styles of playing for each composer. His Barber was romantic & his Chopin perhaps more straight-forward & less lingering than one is used to. I was drawn into the introspective mood he created in the Chopin Nocturne. His handling of the tricky rhythmic divisions was exceptionally even. At one point the 1st theme unexpectedly cuts out, & Mr. Glover let the moment be abrupt & jarring. After the Nocturnes, Mr. Glover left the stage, only to return immediately & explain that he was looking for some water, but the back room was locked.

A feature of the Old St. Mary's venue is a street musician playing the erhu on the sidewalk next to the building. When the music is quiet, the piercing sound of the instrument easily drifts into the church. Unfortunately it has not been a good match for any of the programs, & the erhu player never takes a break.


Civic Center said...

The detail about the annoying erhu street player is priceless.

Axel Feldheim said...

Perhaps Noontime Concerts should consider giving him his own program. His repertoire includes both Chinese & American music.