It was a warm and sunny November afternoon. The classical music community made a bee-line to the College of Saint Rose’s Massry Center to catch pianist Yaron Kohlberg and the Parnas sisters, Madalyn and Cicely, present a lovely mix of solo, duo and trio pieces written by the masters.
Up first was Debussy’s Cello Sonata. Embracing her cello, 17-year-old Cicely Parnas sat intently focused on the music stand in front of her. With a glance at Israeli-born pianist Kohlberg, the light, airy magic of the Debussy piece was released into the performance hall. The cello’s notes flew effortlessly alongside the piano’s lyrical tones, never overpowering them nor being overpowered by them. The piece came to a close with both performers breaking into grins knowing that they delivered it flawlessly.
Nineteen-year-old violinist Madalyn Parnas walked on stage, nodded to Kohlberg, and they both launched into Ravel’s dynamic Violin Sonata in G Major. The beauty of the piece is that Ravel heard the New Orleans-styled blues of the Roaring ’20s and ’30s in Paris and incorporated elements of that modern sound into his classical compositions. Sandwiched between that piece’s opening and closing classical motifs is the powerful “Blues: Moderato,” which is at the heart of the work and puts it all into historical perspective. Kohlberg and Madalyn Parnas were of one mind, giving their interpretation of the piece its very own passionate and emotional signature.
The last work presented in the first half of the program was Chopin’s magnificent Piano Sonata No. 3 in B minor, OP. 58. Kohlberg’s fingers stroked, pounded and caressed the keys, creating flashes of brilliance in the work’s flowing lyricism. Taking his bows, Kohlberg – and the audience – knew that he nailed it with aplomb.
Following the intermission, all three world-class musicians took the stage together to tackle the passion and fury of another modern composer, Shostakovich. The Russian musical genius’ Piano Trio No. 2 in E minor, Op 67 was made for the Parnas siblings’ strings to support Kohlberg’ percussive keys. The composition’s dynamic swings were navigated effortlessly by the trio. With a glance here and a nod there, the trio gave it a form, a heartbeat and then life. Glorious life!
It’s a rare treat to hear three young, dynamic and brilliant performers – two not yet in their twenties and one in the middle of them – who have dazzled audiences everywhere, won some heavy awards, made critically appreciated recordings and played the important concert halls around the country.
It’s also refreshing that none of them are yet a money making ‘product’ created by the ‘hype’ that’s generated through promoters, artist managers, the recording companies or media pundits looking to cash in on their talents.
Just listening to one bar of any of these three musicians on their respective instruments – individually or collectively – and you know it’s the sound of great careers in the making.
Review and photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk