Bach’s In Good Hands

Lucy Gellman PhotoNonononono.” Aldo Parisot said with a sudden lowering of his hands, bringing a panoply of bows, all fiercely swinging to Antonio Vivaldi’s “Concerto No. 4 in F minor” (“Winter”) from The Four Seasons, to an abrupt halt.

“Somebody screwed it up. Was it you?”

A single finger pointed to the chest of a young cellist, who seemed to tighten his grip around the bow as he nodded solemnly.

There is much to know about Parisot, the founder and director of the Grammy-nominated, internationally recognized Yale Cellos. Two facts stand out this time of year.

First: he is tough. “I want perfection,” he said at the end of a rehearsal. “That does not exist, but that doesn’t stop me.”

Second? He believes fiercely in his students, perhaps more than they believe in themselves.

“It’s wonderful working with them. They are my students, you know. We have a great deal of fun.” he said with just a hint of mischief a few days before the concert, sitting in a practice space at Yale’s Slifka Center.

The two traits will come together Wednesday night when the Yale Cellos take the stage at Morse Recital Hall at 8 p.m. 

The annual concert is always a highlight of the season. This year’s performance will include a rendition of Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Chaconne in G minor” (excerpted above) played largely off of call-and-response, a trope that relies on a group’s aural, mental and musical unity. Arranged for cello by Laszlo Varga, the piece trades calm, breathy moments with frenetic and swoon-worthy passages to create a tour de force that leaves listeners on the edge of their seats if it is done right. 

As the cellists rehearsed it the other day, a tilt of a head, forward shifting of eyes or even the occasional flicker of a grin made it clear that they were – and are – listening to each other as their deep, voluminous sound fills a room. This is also the case as they take on Vivaldi, who – aforementioned struggles aside – is left quite literally in very good hands.

As at last year’s varied and creative program, the Cellos will share the spotlight with several other performers. The first half of the program is dedicated to individual musicians, playing favorites from Barber and Hadyn. Among them is Yale music Professor Ole Akahoshi, gracing the stage with the world premiere of Ezra Laderman’s five-movement “Partita No. 2,” a contemporary take on a Baroque-era tradition.

It is hard to tell exactly who of the two (or three, considering that Parsot requested the piece at this concert specifically) is more pumped for Wednesday. “I am very very excited about the concert because we have been working quite hard on it. The pieces are quite independent from the Bach partitas, and it’s a very exciting piece, a lot of fun to play. Each piece is individually separate in its own form and idea, but there are some connections between the movements,” Akahoshi explained when asked how he was feeling.

“I feel very happy that the work is in the hands of a great cellist,” said Laderman, who tweaked the piece as he listened to Akahoshi. “He’s played it for me many times and he’s wonderful.”

“This piece reflects where I’m at today. The delight of being able to compose is one that I had never anticipated,” he added.

Such sheer and hard-earned delight will be echoed by the Yale Cellos as they place their selection in conversation with Laderman’s.

There is, it would seem, only one way to hear exactly how they dovetail.

For ticket prices and other event details, click here. All proceeds go to the Yale Cello Fund.


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