Review: ClaverackLanding “Two Geniuses”

by John Paul Keeler
for Hudson-Catskill Newspapers

ClaverackLanding brought young musicians from the Bard College Conservatory of Music to perform two quartets by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) along with readings by poet Kate Light on both Mozart and Albert Einstein (1879-1955) titled “Two Geniuses” at the Presbyterian Church.

Kate Light read with delight her words and poetry celebrating Einstein and Mozart between the movements of the two quartets.  Her celebration of Einstein was particularly grand and the Mozart was fine but he spoke so eloquently of himself in the two quartets.

Hansegger portrait_Einstein_1

The great painter John Hansegger (1908-89) who lived in Columbia County for over a quarter century painted Einstein from life at Princeton in 1953.  Hansegger said that the sessions with Einstein were the most memorable of his career.  Hansegger and Einstein conversed in their Swiss-Deutsch dialect.  Hansegger remembered that Einstein told delicious Swiss Jokes and even played on the violin for him.  Hansegger reported “Einstein loved classical music and said that Mozart’s music could be a proof of God and that perhaps by the next century science and religious belief might actually converge.”

The young Bard musicians played magnificently.  This writer in a long life has heard all the famous Quartets way back to the Lowenguth Quartet that came from Paris in 1949 to play Mozart’s Quartets dedicated to Haydn.  These young musicians matched the best of one’s memory.

The program began with Mozart’s “Quartet No 21 in D Major K575”. Composed for King Frederick of Prussia who was an excellent cellist caused Mozart to write a cello part that deferred to the “royal virtuosity”.  It is a brilliant melodic miracle pulsing with joy and optimism.  The fine artists Scott Moore and Reina Murooka, violins, Rosemary Nelis viola and Stanley Moore cello reached lyric heights through the magic of their playing.

After intermission Jiazhi Wang and Jiamin Wang violins David Toth viola and Rylan Gajek-Leonard cello played the last of the Mozart Quartets dedicated to Joseph Haydn “The Quartet in C Major”, “The Dissonance” K 465″.  At the premier performance Haydn told Mozart’s father “I tell you before God, and as an honest man, your son is the greatest composer known to me by person or reputation.  He has taste, and what is more, the greatest skill in composition”

The quartet is known as the “Dissonance Quartet” because of its mysterious discordant beginning that sets the mood for this unique masterpiece.  It shocked the public and those complaining to Haydn about it heard the old master, “Well if Mozart wrote it, he must have meant it”.  Heightened expression and rhythmic spice brings the work into ecstatic wonder and the elegance of the minuet is only surpassed by the final movement which goes like the wind bringing down the house by the brilliance of the young artist.