By Rick Koster, The Day, February 9, 2017
It was tricky, is what it was.
Y’see, two of the greatest of the Romantic composers were Robert Schumann and Johannes Brahms. Schumann mentored Brahms. But Schumann, suffering from “psychotic melancholia,” was institutionalized and his wife, Clara — she was a massively successful pianist and a fine composer as well — became the object of Brahms’ affections. To put it in a term classical music scholars would employ, they dug each other. Schumann died in an asylum, but, though Clara and Johannes remained very close, they apparently never had a romantic relationship.
Now, before this gets too soap opera-y, let’s focus on the music, which, after all, is what brought these geniuses into one another’s orbits in the first place. On Saturday and Sunday in Old Lyme’s First Congregational Church, Musical Masterworks, under the inspired leadership of cellist/artistic director Edward Arron, presents a concert exploring the relationship between Brahms and Schumann.
Joining Arron will be soprano Hyunah Yu, pianist Anna Polonsky and violinist Erin Keefe. The program features Brahms’ Scherzo from F-A-E Sonata for Violin and Piano and Piano Trio in C Major, Opus 87; Massenet’s Élégie for Soprano, Piano and Cello; Robert Kahn’s Two Songs for Soprano and Piano Trio, Opus 46 (1906); and Schumann’s Intermezzo from F-A-E Sonata for Violin and Piano, WoO 22 and Frauenliebe und -leben for Voice and Piano, Opus 42.
As an added bonus, Arron is starting a new tradition. One hour before Masterworks concerts, he will present an in-depth pre-concert talk about the lives and works of the featured composers. He is a smart and witty conversationalist, so this should add wonderful texture to the already great performances.
Purchase tickets: Musical Masterworks, 5 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday, remarks by artistic dirctor Edward Arron 4 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday; First Congregational Church, 2 Ferry Road, Old Lyme; $35, $5 for students under 23 with ID; (860) 434-2252.