Brooks-Rogers Recital Hall was filled with the powerful sounds of the cello this Friday: The elegant, yet dynamic reverberations of the string filled the room, leading the audience into an all-encompassing musical experience.
Artist in Residence and Lecturer in Music Ronald Feldman played a variety of pieces on the cello in the afternoon performance. Ranging in pieces from Bach to music by contemporary composer Jeffrey Roberts, Feldman moved beautifully from one era to another. Under the master’s guiding hand, the violin’s sound shifted with grace and elegance.
Feldman is renowned for his work as a cellist and conductor: He is the two-time winner of the American Symphony League’s ASCAP Award for Adventuresome Programming of Contemporary Music. The deep connection between Feldman and his music can be explained through his tremendous experience with conducting and directing musical programs. More specifically, he has served as guest conductor for distinguished orchestras, including the London Symphony Orchestra, Boston Pops Orchestra, Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, Saint Louis Symphony and Quebec Symphony, in addition to a variety of regional groups such as the Albany Symphony, Springfield Symphony, Pro Arte Symphony and Amarillo Symphony. He is currently the director of the Berkshire Symphony and was formerly the director of the New England Philharmonic and the Worcester Orchestra. At the College, Feldman serves as a lecturer in music and Chamber Music coordinator.
On Friday, however, we had the chance to see him as the cello soloist whose skill permitted him to join the Boston Symphony at 19 years of age, and as the musician who performed with many groups, including the Boston Symphony Chamber players, Collage New Music Ensemble, the Boston Symphony Chamber Players and the College’s Chamber Players. Feldman is known to have played and studied a wide range of musical styles, and his mastery of both contemporary and baroque styles was delightfully presented at the recital.
Feldman greeted the room of students, faculty and Williamstown residents quite heartily. The casual affair seemed intimate, yet when he began with a wonderfully rendered Sonata No. 1 in G Major by Bach, he was transported to a musical realm, with the audience simply gazing in awe at this wonderful dance between man and his instrument. The adagio was fluid and graceful, amplified by the accompanying piano played by Lyell B. Clay Artist in Residence Doris Stevenson. Soon enough, the allegro moderato was upon the audience, the bow dancing ever quicker and louder with the cello’s strings. Feldman turned to a wonderful piece Suite for Solo Cello by John Harbinson, a contemporary piece that contrasted the baroque heard before.
Roberts, a notable contemporary composer and architect of Twelve Landscape Views for Cello and Guqin, was among the audience on Friday. Roberts joined Feldman during on the guqin, a plucked Chinese string instrument. Twelve Landscape Views was both mesmerizing and beautiful, with the combination of the two distinct instruments evoking both thought and emotion. Feldman continued the recital with the piece A Frog He Went A-Courting by Paul Hindemith, once more changing up the atmosphere with a far more upbeat and merry piece. The recital was concluded with Sonata in A Major for Cello and Piano, on which Feldman was joined once again by Stevenson. The piece showcased a return to the more romantic style seen at the shows opening.
The words of Maestro Seiji Ozawa, Conductor Laureate of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, seem to describe both Feldman and the wonderful recital perfectly: “An outstanding conductor …. I find him to have a deep musical mind which is clearly conveyed through his performances.” Every member of the audience certainly left the recital echoing this notion, having just experienced a musical journey of unparalleled quality.