By MIKE DUNHAM
The best single musical event of the year in Anchorage may well have been the Brahms Piano Trio in B Major presented by Elmar Oliveira, Zuill Bailey and Eduard Zilberkant in Grant Hall on Saturday night. The best single moment may have been the eloquently drawn-out F half-note at the top of the cello’s opening phrase played by Bailey at the start of the first movement – something of a summary for the entire performance, which was dramatic, soulful and intelligently considered in all respects. Supreme musicality was imprinted on Brahms’ score like Washington’s profile on a quarter, particularly in the matching sympathies and delivery shared by Bailey and violinist Oliveira.
The entire concert, the second in this year’s Autumn Classics series, had much to commend it. The two lush Rhapsodies for Oboe, Viola and Piano by Charles Loeffler were a wonderful introduction to this composer’s intriguing and beautiful music. Originally from France, Loeffler was in the top ranks of American composers a century ago and is getting a well-deserved second look nowadays. Catherine Weinfield, the oboist, expressed special fondness for this piece, since the available romantic chamber repertoire for her instrument is somewhat limited.
The viola, however, has an equal billing in the soundscape. Sandra Robbins had a focused, moody and authoritative voice. Zilberkant stayed on top of the treacherous piano writing that critically supplies most of the canvas for the Rhapsodies.
The evening opened with Oliveira and Robbins in an of entertaining of a Handel Passacaglia, originally for harpsichord, as arranged for violin and viola and characterized by creative special effects for the instruments.
The music series continues on Sunday. Bailey, the musical director for the concerts, has accurately observed that the listeners get more music in this two-weekend series than they might in some named festivals. Sunday’s program, for instance, will include Beethoven’s “Spring” Sonata, Mozart’s Piano Quartet in G Minor and Liszt’s “Mephisto Waltz” No. 1.
The series will resume Sept. 21-23, with a remarkable program by pianist Piers Lane, who will perform all of the Chopin Nocturnes in a single concert. We have not heard of such a cycle being presented by a name pianist before. That program will take place in the Discovery Theatre. All others take place at Alaska Pacific University’s Grant Hall. Tickets are available at centertix.net.