Several years can pass without an opportunity to hear all 10 of Beethoven's sonatas for violin and piano in concert, but this season there are three cycles in progress -- Bayla Keyes and Lois Shapiro are playing them at Wellesley College; Victor Romanul and Jerome Rosen are offering them at the Goethe Institute; and the Gardner Museum is presenting them with the young Canadian violinist Corey Cerovsek and the Finnish pianist Paavali Jumppanen.
Yesterday Cerovsek and Jumppanen played the second of three concerts; this one featured sonatas 6-8. These may be young players, but very experienced ones: Cerovsek has been before the public since he was 9; at 18 he had completed all his doctoral class work at Indiana University, both in music and in mathematics. Jumppanen started the piano at 5; recently Pierre Boulez chose him to record his complete piano music for Deutsche Grammophon.
The two musicians have complementary temperaments. Cerovsek still has a kid's goofy grin, but his playing is elegant and sophisticated. Darker forces are at work in Jumppanen's artistic personality -- he brings out depth and shading in Cerovsek, and the violinist keeps Jumppanen on the rails.
Jumppanen has a particularly strong sense of rhythm and forward momentum; the pedal is more for accent than for color. Cerovsek loves smiling detail; it is wonderful to hear a violinist who is interested in qualities other than speed and volume swimming in vibrato sauce. Together they play with fire and finesse, sensitivity and boldness, humor and tenderness.
This last is a rare quality in music making today; they played the slow movement of Op. 30, No. 2 so sweetly that it was difficult to tear oneself away to streak to Cambridge to hear the Masterworks Chorale sing Orff's "Carmina Burana."
Allen Lannom has been music director of the group since 1952 -- about the time he prepared the chorus for the American premiere performances of "Carmina," which were conducted by the legendary Leopold Stokowski.
Sanders Theatre was full yesterday afternoon, and the audience heard a very good performance. The chorale sings with balance and discipline, and the floating ease of the high soprano sound is lovely. The amazing children from the PALS Children's Chorus chimed in with spirit. There was a good orchestra with a superb percussion section; first-rate solos came from flutist SueEllen Hershman-Tcherepnin and bassoonist Janet Underhilll who shared the voice of the roasting swan with the sad-faced tenor, Craig Hanson. Soprano Junko Watanabe was outstanding in the soprano part, singing with a tone that was steady, pure, and colorful all the way up into the empyrean above the staff. Baritone Robert Honeysucker is an inevitable choice for this piece hereabouts because he sings it so much better than anyone else; he commands the rhythm, the range, the resonance, and there is still a twinkle in his eye.
Lannom approaches the work for musical values rather than sensational effect, so the piece didn't sound as vulgar as it often does, although it was still impossible to forget that this work was written in Germany in 1937, and in its crowd-pleasing manipulations it leaves about as much to chance as a Nuremberg rally.