Kerrytown Concert House has yet another installment of Live @ The 415. Bringing in a musical artist every month, Kerrytown Live @ The 415 premiers an almost biweekly program promoting musicians. With an hour-long virtual program, violist Samuel Koeppe along with pianist Taylor Flowers offered up three viola works that complimented the night’s theme: “Fantasy & Reflection.”
For those of you who have yet to read my writing before, you should know I’m also game for a themed review. So, while I listened to these fantasies, I began to imagine stories to “accompany” their performance. Disclaimer: The majority of these stories are centered around the forestry area that exists around Bursley Residence Hall, so if you don’t like squirrels or raccoons, I apologize.
The Program started with Koeppe and Flowers’s “Élégie, Op. 30” by Henri Vieuxtemps. The song itself is sinewy both in tempo and in color: elastic enough to express sorrow, but rigid enough to show technical mastery. Relying predominantly on arpeggios (think Mariah Carey) to create an atmosphere of life and mourning, elegies usually depict moments of reflection and mourning of the dead.
This piece felt like a great opener to the program — it demonstrated Koeppe and Flowers’s emotional connections to the music while also providing a strong foundation for both players to showcase their talent. Story-wise, this elegy felt reminiscent of the first 10 minutes of “Up” where we see the abridged, bittersweet life of two lovers.
With that, I offer my first piece:
Marjorie the Raccoon was a widow. One year ago, she had to say goodbye to her lifetime partner, Cicely, who tragically passed away of natural causes: choking on a bagel. Marjorie lives alone in the sewer outside Bursley Hall and spends her day working. But, she always remembers to visit Cicely. Around mid-afternoon, she makes the trek out of the sewer grate and slowly climbs the trees to one precarious branch near the top. There, she reminisces. Marjorie knows Cicely’s gone, but it doesn’t stop her from eambracing the spring sun with her every day — even if it’s just in spirit.
Following the elegy was Robert Schumann’s “Märchenbilder, Op. 113.” Translated from German as “Fairy Tale Pictures,” Koeppe and Flowers did a wonderful job of finding the emotion for each of the four movements in the piece. Each of these movements contrasted each other in a refreshing way, varying tempos and the musical stylings for each one.
While the first movement felt like a drama-mama wedding march, the second felt like the interlude of “Doin Time” covered by Lana Del Ray with its melancholy sway. Koeppe provided a fantastic range of musicality, shifting from bombastic to delicate in the span of one beat. In honor of the four movements, my next piece will be four squirrel haikus each embracing the emotions of their designated movement:
Hunger of acorns,
Devastation: Rain On Me.
At last- thee nut!
New love on the dewy grass?
Oh, the chittering.
Puffed cheeks and bellies-
The trees have a-bloomed
And the chase has begun.
A Friend forever,
That is to say sweetly, love:
Only till winter.
After a brief intermission, the program offered up its closure: “Suite Hébraïque” by Ernest Bloch. With three movements, the piece took up the entirety of the second half of the program. Still, this segment was by far the most intriguing and captivating. With more eerie and goosebump-inducing melodies, Koeppe did a stunning job of embracing the microtones (think Simpson’s Theme) of this piece’s clashing score.
This piece felt like a full story, with hints of grandeur that reminded me of a theremin. Flowers felt like the perfect accompanist, providing a solid tempo and styling for Koebbe to work off of throughout the movements. Bloch’s music feels like a little bit of panic and revolt. So, I decided to write about the hawk that controls the trees outside Bursley.
The bird has done it again: Stolen acorns from the squirrels below for their own chaotic enjoyment. As the sunrises into high noon, this hawk of ill-will gawk and caw to these frantic foragers. Finally, Mother Squirrel has had enough. She gathered her allies and prepared to do what was necessary. Come nightfall, all the squirrels approached the Hawk’s nest. Mother Squirrel reaches her foe and in one motion head-butts the Hawk off the tree. As the Hawk falls to the Earth, he reflects on his pitfalls and decides from henceforth, he would not be rude. As the sun rises once again, Mother Squirrel rejoices with her comrades, but wait. What did the hawk leave behind? Two newborn birds chirping for food, Mother Squirrel knows what she has to do…
As the program came to a close, I felt disheartened to be saying goodbye to the animals of the forest outside my window. It hurt me to say that fantasizing about their lives made me feel less overwhelmed with the ever-creeping end of the semester. Koeppe and Flowers did a stunning job of creating respite that one could find in a week, and I appreciated their ability to make me think about the more whimsical parts of life right outside.
Those interested can find Live @ 415’s “Fantasy & Reflection: The Viola Center Stage” in the archives of kerrytownconcerthouse.com.
Daily Arts Writer Matthew Eggers can be reached at email@example.com.