• Music Review: Local music teachers excel
    By Jim Lowe
     | March 25,2014

    Jim Lowe / Staff Photo From left, cellist Robert Blais, pianist Diane Huling and violinist Raymond Malone played works of Beethoven and Rachmaninoff on Sunday in Montpelier.

    MONTPELIER — Can music teachers perform? Central Vermont instrumental students found out Sunday afternoon at Montpelier’s Unitarian Church that indeed they can — and beautifully. (The program was also performed March 15 in Rutland and Saturday in Norwich.)

    Two well-known local teachers, cellist Robert Blais and violinist Raymond Malone, joined Cabot concert pianist Diane Huling in virtuoso chamber music of Beethoven and Rachmaninoff, and it was most impressive.

    Ludwig van Beethoven’s Piano Trio in c minor, Opus 1, No. 3, despite new freedoms and quirkiness enjoyed by the composer, is a beautifully Classical work. Sunday’s performance was anchored by Huling’s beautifully elegant crystalline playing. Although sensitive and refined, Huling missed none of the drama of the work, playing with power as well as finesse.

    Malone’s violin was warm and lyrical, with just the right degree of passion for this Classical work. Blais delivered the more reserved cello part with warmth and a natural musicality. Although both had momentary lapses in intonation and finesse, coupled with Huling they played with an able virtuosity resulting in a musically rewarding performance.

    Sunday’s crowd pleaser was certainly Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Sonata for Cello and Piano in g minor, Opus 19. This is not only a work requiring tremendous virtuosity in both parts, it has an almost over-the-top lyricism that makes it more like opera or movie music. Hence, when successfully performed — as it certainly was here — it’s an extravagant and beautiful experience.

    Blais, though sometimes a little reserved, not only delivered the work’s truly virtuosic moments, he played with warmth, lyricism and passion. Huling, though a little stricter rhythm would have achieved more grandeur, played with a large-scale virtuosity that made the performance truly exciting. It was also a beautifully rhapsodic performance.

    The program opened with Beethoven’s Sonata No. 5 in F Major, Opus 24, for Violin and Piano. Known as the “Spring” Sonata, the work is warm, lyrical and very Classical. Malone employed his aforementioned beautifully lyrical sound and expert bow arm, but there were also some rough passages. Huling, after overplaying the small Yamaha baby grand piano a bit, played elegantly and lyrically.

    Central Vermont is indeed home to some very fine instrumentalists who also teach.

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