August 4 Solo performance with Jonathan Bass

I t is never simply the technical prowess which draws us to a performer. Is it important? Of course, and can be compelling and inspiring, but it is the emotion with which it is infused that brings a performance home, and allows the current between performer and audience to connect. The more a performer is able to evoke the intent of a piece, the easier it is to truly hear the music.

As a solo performer, Jonathan Bass inhabited the world created first by Beethoven, offering us a crisp, lively, full rendition of Beethoven’s piano sonata in E flat major Op. 81a, bridging the past with the present by providing us with a series of complicated and varied musical lines to take us there.

Debussy’s images, Book 1 depicts a lush, colorful series of paintings, starting with the arpeggios of water, thoughts of green countryside and a full field of flowers. Colorful, almost jazz like, the images are so visual, we can almost see the music. The Movement section is playful, joyous, celebratory, expanding the emotional palette.

Chopin’s Ballade No 2 in F Major Op. 38, followed by Liszt’s Après une lecture du Dante, Fantasia quasi Sonata, rounds out a full program. Dramatic, larger than life, expansive, grand. Imagine a herd of galloping horses. The program was as technically challenging as it was emotionally. It left us full, sated with the bounty of a multiple course meal. Leaving it all there with us, Bass treated us to dessert of Chopin’s Mazurka in A Minor Op 17 No 4 with its sometimes dance like, sometimes reflective strains, followed by a lagniappe of Schumann’s Romanze in F Sharpe Major Op 28 No 2., considered by Schumann (and his wife, Clara) as one of his most successful works.

Bass’s generous offering reflected the level of preparation and willingness to be present with us, and willingness to allow us into his vision of these Classical composers. Violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter says that musicians are at their most personal on stage. With this in mind, we can appreciate the confidence required to be open and share the intimacy of a musical performance, particularly with a single performer. It is a connection like no other, and a fitting last concert by a master instructor/musician at the 2023 Vivace Vilnius Festival.

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About Meg

Meg is a licensed independent clinical social worker with over thirty-five years clinical experience. She holds a Master’s Degree from the Boston University School of Social Work and a Bachelor of Arts from the State University of New York at Binghamton.