Monday, March 1, 2010

PORT PICKS: A Romantic 'Rain'

RAIN, I DON’T MIND: Nobody, not even TMZ *really* knows what, if anything, went on between Johannes Brahms and Clara Schumann, the wife of Robert Schumann, Johnny’s dear friend, mentor, the guy who put his name on the map, musically. He was crazy in love with Clara, but she, alas, merely loved him, like (words no guy ever wants to hear) a dear, dear friend. Even after Schumann died, he apparently struck out, romantically, as Clara, playing a 19th-Century Jackie Kennedy, made sure the big man’s legacy was secure. But, while no one knows what went on inside their heads, it’s pretty clear the dude was hurting big time. You can hear it in Sonata in G Major, op. 78 — the so-called Rain Sonata — in which the yearning is palpable, almost overwhelming. And Mrs. S got the message. In a letter to Brahms she confessed to “bursting into tears” on hearing it. We’re hoping that modern-day audiences can hold it together when violinist Gabriela Diaz and pianist Lois Shapiro play the Rain Sonata during “Eloquent Expressivity: The Violin Sonatas of Johannes Brahms,” the final program of this year’s Jean C. Wilson Music Series at the Unitarian Universalist Church, which takes place this weekend. Diaz, a New England Conservatory-trained musician who acted as concertmistress under Pierre Boulez at the Lucerne Festival Academy, is noted for her polished technique. Shapiro is a founding member of the Triple Helix piano trio. Also on the program will be Brahms’ Sonata #2 in A Major, Sonatensatz in C minor and Sonata #3 in D minor. The concert takes place at 4 p.m. March 7 at the Unitarian Church, 26 Pleasant St., Newburyport. Tickets are $15, $10 for seniors. Children and students can listen for free ... if they promise to behave.

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