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Twas the Night Past Yom Kippur…

New York
Le Poisson Rouge, 162 Bleecker Street
09/19/2010 -  
Claude Debussy: Clair de lune
Ludwig van Beethoven: Sonata Number 5 for Violin and Piano (“Spring”), First movement
Gene Pritsker: Variations on “Sakura, Sakura”
George Gershwin: Summertime
Antonio Vivaldi: The Seasons (Autumn)
Vernon Duke: Autumn in New York
Joseph Kosma: Tenderly – Autumn Leaves (Arranged by DeRosa)
Alfred Schnittke: Stille Nacht

Anne Akiko Meyers (Violin), Reiko Uchida (Piano)

A. A. Meyers (© Anthony Pamalee)

Audiences at Le Poisson Rouge are open for anything, from the most advanced jazz and rock to futuristic piano, Australian orchestras and…well, last night, for a restful unchallenging post-Yom Kippur hour with Anne Akiko Meyers and her longtime accompanist Reiko Uchida.

The recital was to promote her new recording, out next weekend, but the music on the disc won’t win any prizes for daring. She performed only half the music, but if this is indicative of Ms. Meyer’s efforts, they are purely commercial.

Nothing wrong with that at all. She is a splendid violinist, with a light touch when needed, a sense of humor when composed, and an easy manner. For the heavier composers, she took the lightest way out. The placid opening movement of Beethoven’s “Spring” Sonata, Debussy’s Clair de lune, a single movement from Vivaldi’s The Seasons (which sounds frankly vapid without string orchestra behind her.)

This is probably unfair. She did give her all. Summertime was given a delicious delivery, and old Clair de lune was played with a lighe touch. When it came to the American songs, Autumn in New York and Tenderly, she gave it exactly the treatment which Jascha Heifetz gave to pop music. Careful, subdued lightly nightclubby tunes played with precision.

Two exceptions to the evening. Guitarist/rapper/composer Gene Pritsker composed wonderful variations on Sakura, Sakura, played with skill by Ms Meyers and terrific piano-playing by Ms. Uchida.

The other exception was Alfred Schnittke’s version of Silent Night. Schnittke probably tossed this off in a minute as a going-away gift to some artist on recital. It started with “our” Silent Night…sort of. True, the double-stopped violin was heavier on the harmony than the tune, but nobody worried about that. Then she began Schnittke’s musical joke. A few horrible discordances on the cadences, followed by the violin followng the piano a half-tone apart, more dissonances (the audience began to get the joke now), and a wonderful finale where Ms. Meyers tuned the lowest G string way down to the notes of a bass tuba.

All in all, Mozart would have loved it (though I fear Christian fundamentalists would have noisily stomped out).

Still, if naught was substantial or required Ms. Meyers’ virtuosity, she and we did enjoy the evening of music and charming chatter. I don’t know her religion, but Ms. Meyers could well have fasted for Yom Kippur and resolved Sunday was the day to take a night off.

Harry Rolnick



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