Duo Parnas at Tannery Pond
May 27, 2015, 12:00 am
Duo Parnas returns to Tannery Pond
By Andrew L. Pincus
Special to The Eagle
POSTED: 05/27/2015 12:24:48 PM EDT0 COMMENTS| UPDATED: ABOUT 10 HOURS AGO
Cellist Cicely Parnas, 22, left, and her sister, violinist Madalyn, 24, returned to Tannery Pond Concerts for the third time Saturday in a program of music
Cellist Cicely Parnas, 22, left, and her sister, violinist Madalyn, 24, returned to Tannery Pond Concerts for the third time Saturday in a program of music fit for twilight and the glow of sunset. (courtesy christian steiner/duoparnas.com)
NEW LEBANON, N.Y. — Arvo Paert's "Mozart-Adagio" adds a layer of mysticism to the pathos of the slow movement of Mozart's Piano Sonata in F, K. 280. Mozart's essential notes are there, but they are slowly taken apart, given added spaces and dissonances, and reassembled in a retreat into serenity from 20th-century world madness.
The Estonian composer's meditation opened duo parnas' concert with pianist Ran Dank Saturday night at Tannery Pond. At the other end of the expressive spectrum, the evening's finale, Shostakovich's Trio No. 2, provided a descent into the tragedy that came out of that world.
There was no arc to the journey, no message to be delivered. With pianist Dank, sisters Madalyn Parnas, on violin, and Cicely Parnas, on cello, simply presented five pieces that they liked. The affinity especially showed in Ravel's Violin Sonata No. 2 and Peter John's "From the Zodiac," a solo piece composed for Cicely Parnas.
The program, given amid twilight and sunset glow across the fields, opened Tannery Pond Concerts' 25th season. It brought back the Parnases, former neighbors in Stephentown, for a third appearance.
Now in their early 20s, the sisters are living in the Midwest and making careers for themselves. Last month, Madalyn performed the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto with the London Philharmonic. Next month, Cicely will be the soloist in the Khachaturian Cello Concerto under Keith Lockhart at the Brevard (N.C.) Music Center.
Critic's choice from the Tannery: the Ravel sonata. Somewhat like his Piano Concerto in G, this work mixes heartfelt lyricism with bluesy excursions and high jinx. Madalyn Parnas captured these qualities with elegance and insouciance, buzzing merrily away in the perpetual-motion finale. Her playing seemed to float in a delicious Parisian air while Dank's piano followed her like a gentlemanly shadow.
John's "From the Zodiac" replaced Bartok's Rhapsody No. 1 on the program, and at times an echo of Bartok remained in the otherworldly harmonics, tremolos and glissandos. In continuous movements titled "Pisces," Aquarius" and "Taurus," the John piece required both acrobatics and atmosphere from Cicely Parnas. She supplied both in plenty.
Besides taking a bow, the Minnesotan composer served as a page turner and stage manager for the evening.
The Shostakovich performance sounded like a work in progress. The players made the right moves, but the work's savagery in its meditation on Stalin-era injustice and persecution sounded tame. This is not nice music, and a performer has to be as aggrieved and aggressive as it is.
Before the Shostakovich, Dank took a solo turn in his own arrangement of another arrangement of Liszt's "Hungarian Rhapsody" No. 13. Czardas rhythms and keyboard fireworks second-guessed the original's.
The Tannery audience greeted everything with its accustomed enthusiasm.