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Weekend Preview May 19-24
Bob Dylan tributes, Deborah Voigt, Tom Paxton, Bill Kirchen, John Kirk and Trish Miller

Celebrating Bob Dylan's 70th Birthday in Style
Paying tribute to the greatest rock songwriter ever

FILM REVIEW: In a Better World and Of Gods and Men
Review by Seth Rogovoy

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Deborah Voigt Headlines Mahaiwe Gala
Opera star to sing arias, show tunes on Saturday, May 21

Famed Spiritual Teacher to Speak on Nonviolence
Mother Maya in free talk at Sruti Yoga in Great Barrington, Mass., on Friday May 20 at 7pm

Special Effects Wizard to Be Honored by Film Festival
Doug Trumbull to be Feted by BIFF

Weekend Preview May 12-16
Cultural Highlights of the Berkshire Weekend

Talk about a small world
Elaine and I grew up together, but only just recently met....

Berkshire Living to Cease Publication
A Farewell from Publisher Michael Zivyak

twiGs Branches Out
Lenox boutique launches new e-tail site

[MUSIC REVIEW] Avalon Quartet in Close Encounters at Mahaiwe
Review by Seth Rogovoy

[MUSIC REVIEW] Avalon Quartet in Close Encounters at Mahaiwe
Review by Seth Rogovoy

[FILM REVIEW] Bill Cunningham New York
Review by Seth Rogovoy

[FILM REVIEW] Bill Cunningham New York
Review by Seth Rogovoy

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CONCERT REVIEW: Visionary, mystical music

Saturday, October 29, 2005
Mahaiwe Theatre
Great Barrington, Mass.

J.S. Bach, Suite for Solo Cello #1, in G Major
Franz Liszt, “Nuages Gris,” “Bagatelle Without Tonality”
Arvo Part, Fratres
Olivier Messiaen, Quartet for the End of Time

Vadim Gluzman, violin; Michael Boriskin, piano; Alexander Fiterstein, clarinet; Yehuda Hanani, cello

Artistic director Yehuda Hanani demonstrated how serious he is about challenging and provoking audiences in the inaugural concert of 2005-2006 season of the Close Encounters with Music series. Hanani doesn’t shy away from difficult works, as evidenced by this ambitious program that challenged musicians as much as listeners.

Where there is no challenge, there is no payoff, and fortunately for those attending the season kickoff, the payoff was tremendous, as the well-paced, smartly designed program built to an astonishing, triumphant climax with Olivier Messiaen’s poignant, beautiful, and heartbreaking tone poem, Quartet for the End of Time. Having been composed during the depths of World War II in a prisoner of war camp, the Messiaen comes laden with the burden of history, but the musicians didn’t let that get in the way of mining the piece for new depths of understanding and dealing with its inherent complexities. As Hanani pointed out in his brief but acute remarks introducing the piece, the “end of time” has as much to do with musical values as the feeling of apocalypse that might have inspired Messiaen, and the quartet wrestled with these values in equal measure (pun intended), pinning it down for a dizzying count of ten.

The concert opened with the very familiar melody of Bach’s prelude to his cello suite, and Hanani, in a solo tour de force, dug deeply into the seven movements finding ways to make the familiar unfamiliar. He also may or may not have been consciously looking ahead to the rest of the program, but in his dealing with Bach’s mathematical symmetry he seemed to be laying down a basic grammar or vocabulary against which to measure or read what was yet to come.

And what was next was perhaps most surprising, as the Liszt pieces for piano were shockingly different from what ordinarily expects from Liszt. These weren’t the typical exercises in virtuosity and rote scales and arpeggios; rather, this was composition of the most avant-garde imaginable, looking ahead decades or even a century to what was to come, and as such, the perfect lead-in to Arvo Part’s Fratres, which as with so much of the Estonian mystic’s music, had one foot in the Middle Ages and the other in the 21st century.

It was a brilliant way to kick off a season, giving the lie to Close Encounters as an “off-season” series, instead demonstrating it to be a chamber music series on a par with anything heard at Tanglewood at the “height” of the season. For this, we year-rounders are blessed.

Next up: “Classical Hollywood,” a program examining the intersection of high art and popular entertainment, featuring works by composers including Kurt Weill, Erich Korngold, Miklos Rosza, Claude Bolling and others, on November 26, again at the beautiful Mahaiwe. Here’s hoping the musicians might throw in a little Randy Newman?

-- Seth Rogovoy

I noticed this also and have begun to wonder if the Eagle has discontinued all standards or they have no one policeing the standards.

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