When I caught him in late August, pianist Alexander Tentser had just popped back into town after quite a bit of traveling with his violinist wife, Anna Gendler. But he was already formulating great plans for the Arizona Senior Academy concert the pair is set to play at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday (Sept. 20), with two other highly esteemed Tucson-based musicians: violist Melissa Hamilton and cellist Theodore Buchholz.
Now those plans have come together. Appearing as the St. Michael’s Chamber Players, the four, all well-known here and beyond for their teaching and performing in various settings, have as their calling card an exalting chamber music work, the Schumann Piano Quartet.
“We like to play it a lot,” said Tentser. And why not? A, it stars the pianist; and B, it’s major Schumann in chamber-music mode. Like other music from this Romantic composer, it is, as Tentser said, “imaginative music, very brilliant, with extreme emotional poles and ranges, and very melodious.”
You’d count yourself lucky just to hear the Schumann. But there are two bonus tracks Tuesday. Gendler and Tentser, whose formative training was Russian (Tentser also holds a doctorate from University of Arizona) join up for one of Beethoven’s early sonatas for violin and piano, Op. 23, No. 4.
“It’s very dramatic and it kind of foreshadows a lot of interesting things that developed in the later sonatas, like the “Kreutzer,” Tentser said.
And cellist Buchholz and Tentser pair up for the first movement of a 1951 cello and piano sonata by Hans Winterberg, one of three composers featured in a mid-October UA symposium and festival on “Forbidden Composers” whose music was banned by the Nazi regime.
It should make for a fascinating morning of chamber music at the ASA.
Written by Susan Isaacs Nisbett, Academy Village Volunteer