(Re-posted from ToledOvations a blog of Sally Vallongo, music writer for the Toledo Blade)
A KEYBOARD TRIUMPH AT THE UNIVERSITY OF TOLEDO
“Just so you know: this recital hall is tornado safe,” said Michael Boyd, University of Toledo’s resident piano guru, at the start of the second Dorothy MacKenzie Price recital Sunday in the Center for Performing Arts.
Well, there were storms of many kinds that day, but the best and most constructive happened inside the hall.
There, Teresa McCollough, a longtime friend of Boyd and busy performer, shared some of her impressive performing gifts with a large and enthusiastic crowd.
The dual-ing pianists first met at Eastman School of Music, where both earned graduate degrees.
McCollough wound up in San Francisco, where Boyd has been doing some performing in recent years.
So, it was time to bring her back eastward, for a powerfully symmetrical program that skated along the edge of music from the 20th century – McCollough’s passion.
|The first half comprised American folk song-inspired pieces by Frederic Rzewski and Tobias Picker.
Boyd joined McCollough for the double-keyboard opener, The Winnsboro Cotton Mill Blues. It summoned the machine-like force and rhythm of Elias Howe’s invention to open, revealing the simple melody which morphed into a bluesy theme, winding up gently in a simulation of a mill shutdown.
By contrast, Picker’s languid musical exploration for solo piano meandered like the two Southern waterways in its name, Old and Lost Rivers.
Rzewski’s second piece, Down by the Riverside, opened with the old melody directly offered, then proceeded to disassemble it into smaller phrases, mixing quotes from other songs in for contrast.
Still, the big hit of the program came post-intermission, when the old college buddies tackled Igor Stravinsky’s huge and tumultuous Rite of Spring in an arrangement which came from the composer via both Boyd’s and McCollough’s studios.
It was a great tribute to the ground-breaking composer on the centennial of this major work.
The level of ensemble was exquisite, as if a single brain drove both pairs of hands. And both brought no-holds-barred power plus estimable finesse to their performances.
Hearing this piece from a single instrument was a revelation.
As Boyd said afterward, “It’s like watching a film in black-and-white.”
While no one would trade the color and texture of a big orchestra playing it, what emered so clearly were Stravinsky’s complex construction, enormous dynamic contrasts, and melodic and harmonic depictions of season.
Enjoying it, of course, was major benefactor Dorothy MacKenzie Price, who not only funds the season but also had provided the big Yamaha concert grand on which McCollough performed.
Posted by Sally Vallongo at 11:55 AM MONDAY, NOVEMBER 18, 2013