The Student News Site of California State University, Stanislaus

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The Student News Site of California State University, Stanislaus

Signal

The Student News Site of California State University, Stanislaus

Signal

Listening close is the key to enjoying

On April 13, California State University, Stanislaus Music Department hosted a Faculty & Guest Artist Recital in the Bernell and Flora Snider Music Recital Hall, featuring CSU Stanislaus’s Dr. Jeannine Dennis on flute and Philip Amalog on piano.
It was a wonderfully solemn affair.
At first, I wrote off the serious faces, black dress, black tux, stolid gray tie and lack of audience interaction by the performers as mere formality, and perhaps that was case, but as the performance went on these elements felt like an extension of the bleak atmosphere.
Dr. Dennis and Amalog began with Sonata in f minor by Georg Philipp Telemann. “Triste” – the first of its four parts – showed off Dr. Dennis’s expertise and right away filled the hall with a mournful air. In “Allegro,” things sped up and became as playful as possible in f minor, especially during a call-and-response, back-and-forth sequence. The second half followed the same rhythm. “Andante” slowed things down before “Vivace” sped them back up.
The duo graduated from mournful to straight-up black with Katherine Hoover’s Medieval Suite for Flute and Piano.
The first piece, the unsettling, suspenseful “Virelai,” was the most impressive of the suite. Especially interesting were Amalog’s choppy, sporadic phrases that covered the whole spectrum of his piano keys.
“The Black Knight” had the piano pushing the flute’s melody to an ear-piercing shriek, and not even the following “The Drunken Friar” gave comedic respite.
We’re pushed along from the serene sadness of “On the Betrothal of Princess Isabelle of France, Aged 6,” to “Demon’s Dance,” a dangerous and fast whirl. The artists build to a climax, cut it off, bow and leave us to ourselves for the intermission.
To my surprise, Dr. Dennis and Amalog return with a lighthearted piece from Otar Taktakishvili. His Sonata for Flute and Piano was split into thirds, “Allegro cantabile,” “Moderato con moto” and “Allegro scherzando.”
The entire sonata featured beautiful, celebratory crescendos that felt like a relief after the almost oppressive medieval suite.
Of course, the two performers may have just been softening up the audience to make them more vulnerable to Lowell Liebermann’s identically named Sonata for Flute and Piano, which was made up of two long, sinister pieces.
“Lento con rubato” was my favorite of the whole night. It felt like the longest single composition and had the most distinctive moments. Its eerie opening gave way into a schizophrenic hard shift before settling back down into an uneasy calm.
“Uneasy” is an apt, curt description of “Lento con rubato.” Near the end, I overheard a conversation happening between the flute on piano. As the flute beseeched, begged for life, the piano responded each time with its deep, one-note answer: No.
Maybe I read too much into it, but I felt a hint of mischief in the smiles of the performers during their final bow to the audience, as if they knowingly pulled something on us.
Or maybe I’m just too impressionable.

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Listening close is the key to enjoying