The works of Franz Schubert and Johannes Brahms provide a
tasty tribute in a performance by the National Chamber Ensemble.
The National Chamber Ensemble presented A Night in Vienna, a one-night performance, in collaboration with
the Austrian Cultural Forum, which featured works of Franz Schubert and
Johannes Brahms at the Rosslyn Spectrum Theatre in Arlington Oct. 22.
Special guest Andreas Pawlitschek, director of the Austrian
Cultural Forum, presented the musical pieces with love of his country’s patrons.
He asked us to raise hands if we knew his native Vienna. Hands flew in the air;
I kept mine down — one day I’ll go to that glorious city too.
“Oh good!” he exclaimed with pride. Then he asked a show of hands
of those who have been to Vienna, Va. After the laugher and snickers died down,
Pawlistchek compared Vienna to two other European cities of romance: Paris and
Vienna? A romantic city?
I thought. I wouldn’t know but, by all means music of Vienna — take me away.
The opening song, “Die Forelle” by Schubert was sung by Nancy
Peery Marriot and accompanied by David Chapman on piano. The “appetizer” of the
night — as the presenters referred to it— was Schubert’s “Trout” Quintet (in A
Major) performed by Leonid Sushansky on violin; Uri Wassertzug on viola; Sean
Neidlinger on cello; T. Allan Stewart on bass; and Carlos César Rodríguez conducting
on piano. The entrée was Brahms’ Piano Quartet No. 1 (in G Minor) performed by
the same crew, minus bass. When four men with bows assembled on stage with
their conductor I was confused. Somehow I thought I was attending an opera.
I had even dressed up for the occasion believing it would be my
first opera. Now, I am no stranger to classical music. I get down with Debussy,
Ravel, Saint-Saëns and Dvorák, but only for so long. So without a vibrant set to
support a colourful cast of characters, how would I know what’s going on? How
would I follow along without a story? How would the National Chamber Ensemble
Those questions subsided as I watched and listened. The songs
from Schubert and Brahms were delightful. Schubert’s “Trout” Andante and
Brahms’ No. 1 Allegro prompted me to search for them later on youtube. The
performance even stirred me to revisit the 1984 Oscar winner,“Amadeus.” Though the musicians were
sitting on chairs on an empty stage, the story I had hoped for in an opera was
found in the players.
The expression “rock out” was apropos for these musicians,
particularly Rodríguez, who conducted the others from the piano. His hands flew
through the ivories, playing scales that led to a thunderous note as he gyrated
in his chair — a wizard summoning a musical incantation.
He peered over the piano as if to see if his spells were cast.
Each of the stringed players matched their instrument in size and moved with a
swagger that mirrored the sound of their instrument. With each solo completed by
the violin or cellist, Rodríguez would bow and kindly smile at the soloist,
acknowledging their own mastery of the song.
None moved with the vigor of Rodríguez, but they all swayed in
rhythms that synchronized with their passion for the Vienna based composers. By
the end, it became apparent that I didn’t need a story. The energy of the
musicians was a story in itself and even though I haven’t been to Vienna, I
look forward to seeing and hearing Austria’s city of romance: Vienna.
If you go
For future events at the Rosslyn Spectrum Theatre, go to rosslynva.org/go/rosslyn-plaza-theater
and for more information about the National Chamber Ensemble go to
© Arlington Catholic Herald 2017