Monday, October 15, 2012

UAA Music Faculty Stuck (Nicely) at the B's

Four UAA music faculty - new faculty John Lutterman and Lee Wilkins, plus long time faculty [Timothy] Tony Smith and Walter Oliveras - played Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms Saturday night.  They may not be able to get past the B's or out of Germany, but they sure can make music.   [Update: Thanks, Phil, for the correction.  I knew it was Timothy. The brain works in mysterious ways.  It popped out another name that began with a T and ended with a Y.  And I was tired. Sorry Timothy.]

I always feel the need to remind readers that when it comes to music, I can't tell you much about what's going on technically and if they missed notes, I probably wouldn't notice.  I can just tell you how it affected me.  I sat for over two hours in another world.

John Lutterman, the new cellist, and (disclosure) a member of the small group of new faculty I'm working with, began by talking about his instruments.  He was holding a baroque cello, and there were two more cellos on the sides of the stage.  After each piece, he walked off the stage with a different cello.  He talked about the sound qualities of each and about the Bach cello suites which were the subject of his dissertation.  He said Bach didn't write music to publish, but more for his students, and as a starting off place for performances, which were improvisations.  His dissertation, he said, makes the argument that Bach's work was intended for improvisation.  And that's what John did.  Rather than play note for note, he approached it more like a jazz musician.  And the Bach cello suites are pieces I'm reasonably familiar with having played my Rostropovich recordings many, many times.  The deep sounds of his cello in that room were enchanting.

The trio - the piano and violin joined the cello - played Beethoven's Trio No. 5 in D major, Op. 70 #1 ("Ghost")* and it was bewitching.  It was like the three musicians were one playing three instruments.  Everything was so perfectly (to my ear) coordinated.

And then after the break, the violist joined the other three for Brahms' Piano Quartet in g minor, Op. 25*.  I keep saying it, but we're so lucky in Anchorage to be able to attend great performances in intimate theaters like the UAA recital hall.  And this hall is both visually and acoustically wonderful.  (Thanks Michael Hood.)

*That's what the program said anyway.

I know.  I know.  This sounds really gushy, but I was really into the music and so were all the people around me.

You can get an inkling of the evening in the short video sampling below.  I can't believe the sound on my tiny camera is as good as it is.  But it is only a vague impression of what we heard Saturday night. 

Sorry, I couldn't get the color quite right in the images.


  1. Sorry I missed that concert .. I love the concerts at the tiny recital hall. I went to the Richard Thompson concert at the PAC .. two special things in one night in Anchorage .. gotta love this town!


  2. Couldn't make it - helping Judy get ready to fly to Fairbanks. Timothy Smith, not Tony.

  3. Some interesting observations on improvisation. Might try looking at baroque for my doodling at the piano, rather than continuing to massacre jazz standards.
    Great facilities you clearly have up there in Anchorage.


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