Years ago I went to an exhibit of Manet in London. It was an experience I won’t forget as much for the paintings by other artists connected with Manet as for the Manet paintings themselves. I really liked getting to know the artist in this way, through the influences and friends surrounding his life. It was like meeting friends of your best friends that you have never met before. It can enrich the original relationship and also shed a different light on it.
So it was in the great Left Coast Chamber Ensemble concert I heard in Mill Valley on Thursday night. (It can also be heard again this Monday night at The San Francisco Conservatory of Music: http://leftcoastensemble.org).
Left Coast Chamber presented works that were all, or almost all, connected to one of my favorite composers of all time, Robert Schumann. There was the composer, Brahms, the third, but essential wheel in the Schumann marriage (I guess some marriages are tricycles), and the sensual Romances by Robert’s wife, Clara Schumann, that were inspired by her falling for young Brahms. There was an incredible, but Schumann-unrelated premier of a quartet by the young Ryan Carter, and two Schumann “Carnival” inspired modern pieces, both premiers, by Olli Kortekangas and Eric Zivian — both really interesting and thought-provokoing. There was a lot of very entertaining talk from the players and composers between pieces , and the final work, the Schumann Violin Sonata in A Minor, performed wonderfully by Artistic Director and violinist, Anna Presler and pianist/composer, Eric Zivian, was the final gift of the evening. I felt like I was given a cup of hot chocolate and wrapped in a warm blanket and sent home even more in love with the composer Robert Schumann than ever, having heard him through a variety of perspectives before hearing one of his great masterpieces at the end.
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