Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Susan and William Goldenberg Make Stunning Music

In amongst the books I've been reading simultaneously is this passage about a married couple who go off into another world while playing the piano together:
The millions sank, as Nietzsche describes it, awestruck in the dust; hostile boundaries shattered, the gospel of world harmony reconciled and unified the sundered; they had unlearned walking and talking and were about to fly off, dancing, into the air. Faces flushed, bodies hunched, their heads jerked up and down while splayed claws banged away at the mass of sound rearing up under them. Something unfathomable was going on: a balloon wavering in outline as it filled up with hot emotion, was swelling to the bursting point, and from the excited fingertips, the nervously wrinkling foreheads, the twitching bodies, again and again surges of fresh feeling poured into this awesome private tumult.
Robert Musil's description on page 45 of The Man Without Qualities came to mind last night as I listened to the Goldenberger Duo - a brother and sister - play the violin and piano together. While last night's music was mellower than Musil's couple's, the Goldenbergs too were invisibly connected, their fingers and souls producing magical sounds that is the promise, but rarely the reality, of live music.

The sanctuary at Beth Sholom has great acoustics, and the trees through the window made a soothing backdrop that included, for a while, a bald eagle making lazy circles in the sky.

I did take a bit of video, but if you watch it, remember it was taken with my little Canon Powershot and so the sound is a raspy whisper while their live sound was rich and enthralling.

For people like Phil who know the music, here's what they played:

Antonin Dvorak - Sonatina in G Major, op.100, Allegro risoluto

Astor Piazolla - Oblivion

Manuel de Falla - Suite Populaire Espangnole (six songs)

John Williams - Theme from Schindler's List

Ernest Bloch - Nigun - Improvisation from Ball Shem Suite

Antonin Dvorak - Sonatina in G Major, op. 100, Allegro

Traditional Hebrew and Yiddish Folks Songs

The last because this concert, nominally, was a musical performance for Yom HaZikaron and Yom Haatzmaut.

The two musicians were concluding a busy week, having played in Juneau, Skagway, Haines, Homer, Eagle River, and a morning concert at West High School in Anchorage before last night's concert.

Thank you, William and Susan, for sharing your window to a better world.


  1. I like how you convey this. I have been at concerts where the music almost becomes a physical yet ethereal entity. I suppose it is just sound waves, but I can feel it. I feel this in certain places of worship, but I have also felt it with the Romeros, a clarinet ensemble, and with some other groups. It's not how loud it is, it's like a breath of G-d that sweeps in.

    I can enjoy a concert if it doesn't get like this, but when it does, it takes me hours days to come down.

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