MUSIC REVIEW: Tannery Pond offers concert as lively as weather

Andrés Díaz, cello/ Wendy Chen, piano/ Tannery Pond, New Lebanon

VIGOR was the word of my evening, Saturday at the Tannery Pond Concert.

The crowd walked briskly, with vigor, on a suddenly chilly night from the parking area to the simple, two-story tannery that’s the concert hall on the grounds of the Mount Lebanon Shaker Village and Darrow School in New Lebanon.

The wind blew vigorously, bending ancient trees in my view through the hall’s many windows.

The work of the concession stand servers was vigorous, including the chase to catch a plastic plate cover that skipped across a windy field.

Even the sky looked vigorous, with a band of white underneath a lurking haze of charcoal.

And the musicians — Andrés Díaz on cello and Wendy Chen, piano — leapt by way of their instruments into a program they played expertly, with gusto. At the piano, Chen’s arm movements were positively balletic. Not one but several of Díaz’s bowstrings snapped with their effort, while he played on without pause.

Díaz, who won First Prize in the 1986 Naumburg International Cello Competition, is a graduate of the New England Conservatory who now lives in Dallas. Chen performs frequently in the United States and abroad with numerous orchestras and with musical icons James Taylor and Art Garfunkel.

Forced to choose a favorite piece, I’d say the two flowing Chopin Etudes that Chen played solo. The rest of the audience would probably vote for The Grand Tango by Astor Piazzolla, a marvelously energetic piece for the two instruments. Díaz soloed on Rhapsody for Solo Cello by Xi Wang, who was born in Shanghai in 1978 and now divides her time between China and the United States. The Debussy Sonata I for both instruments was a refreshing modernist break from the usual “Lune” and “Faun” that one hears on the radio. A rousing Rachmaninov sonata summed up the evening and again brought admirers to their feet.

My wish is that your visit to Tannery Pond Concerts will be on a fine summer evening when the weather isn’t quite so vigorous. You’ll linger outdoors, admiring the sunset until the cowbell calls you into the tannery, where windows are open to the evening breeze. Perhaps you’ll order a locally sourced picnic from Rebecca Joyner a day ahead of time ($18 per person, menu and reservations at 518 794-6012 or ) and dine at an outdoor table near the tannery.

Balcony seats offer metal folding chairs (bring a cushion?) and possibly better sight lines. In the balcony or on the main floor, you’ll be transported by gorgeous music, performed with skill and love.

Five concerts remain in the series. The next is Saturday, July 2, at 8 p.m. Grammy Award-winning soprano Christine Brewer and Craig Rutenberg, distinguished piano accompanist and soloist, present “When I Have Sung My Songs to You: An Evening of American Music and More.” Tickets are $30 or $25. 888 820-1696. www.tannerypondconcerts.org.

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