I heard Greg Beaver (cello) and Hyeyung Yoon (violin) in concert on 9/13/20. It was a concert in the Open Space Music concert series that they started in May. Each of their concerts are done on a Saturday and Sunday night, and the spoken component of this concert was done in English and Korean. It’s always a treat to hear Hyeyung speak Korean, and it feels good to know that her extended family tunes in from around the world. This would not have happened if the concert had been in a concert hall! One of the (only) nice by-products of the pandemic…
They opened with the first two movements of Matthew Fuerst’s sonata for violin and cello, “Prelude” and “Dance.” They had played a few of the movements here and there, but this was the first time they were playing the whole piece in one concert. It was a fascinating piece, with a lot of rhythmic and textural vitality. The first movement featured exciting counterpoint between the two instruments, which snowballed into a big pile of drama and melted into something calm and quiet. The second movement had a driving rhythm but also a sense of play.
Next Hyeyung played a movement from a piece by Anjna Swaninathan. The full piece is called *Anandham: Homecoming,* Hyeyung played the fourth movement, “Pratikriti: Rebellion.” The composer introduced the piece and said she was inspired by the classical violin traditions of India. Hyeyung played it with grace and delicious style. It was fun watching the composer smile and swing her head around during the performance (another nice by-product of a concert happening on Zoom). If I may quibble (may I?), it would have been more fulfilling with some other instruments, I would especially love to hear some percussion.
Greg played the last movement of Spanish composer Gaspar Cassado’s suite for solo cello. Greg said that Cassado was a very popular composer in the 1920s and 1930s but then fell out of fashion. Greg played it gloriously, he was on fire. Here's a performance by Sheku Kanneh-Mason, who you might recognize from having played at Prince Harry and Meaghan Markle's wedding:
Greg then played the last movement (the Chanonne) from a suite he wrote for solo cello. It was a dazzling piece, intellectually stimulating, beautifully organized, and of course it had lots of marvelous effects for the cello. One cool moment had him sustaining a single note with the bow (with his right hand) and playing various pitches pizzicato at the same time (with this left hand). I love hearing stuff like this.
Hyeyung played a violin solo by Carlos Simon, “Between Worlds.” The composer introduced the piece - - he was inspired by the work of the African-American painter Bill Traylor, who was born a slave and died in 1949. Hyeyung did her best playing of the night in this piece, her playing was awesome and gutsy.
Matthew Fuerst introduced the final piece, the last two movements of his sonata for violin and cello, “Chorales” and “Moto perpetuo.” He talked about how the piece started as an homage to the Bach cello suites but then veered away from that and turned into its own thing. It was thrilling hearing the two of them play together after having played all of those solo pieces in the middle of the program. It’s always fun hearing musicians play together when they have great chemistry, and of course Greg and Hyeyung have that, being married and having played in a string quartet together for over twenty years.