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Mutchnik's strings lead to your heart

By Mike Giuliano
February 9, 2012

What better way to prepare for Valentine's Day than with a concert of romantic music? That's the heartfelt impulse behind the program of violin romances selected by violinist Ronald Mutchnik and pianist Daniel Wyneken for the next Sundays At Three concert on Sunday, Feb. 12 at 3 p.m. at Christ Episcopal Church, in Columbia.

"I've always believed that music should be played with taste and from the heart," said Mutchnik, the Sundays At Three artistic director. "The true sentiment will be there, and I don't have to put the heart on the sleeve to sell it further."

Of course, it helps that these two musicians have been friends since they were graduate students at the New England Conservatory in Boston, from which they both received their master's degrees in 1982; Wyneken currently teaches there.

They have collaborated for occasional violin-and-piano recitals since their school days, including one such concert for the Sundays at Three series in 2009.

Comprised of mostly short pieces, the upcoming concert draws upon the rich romantic literature for these two instruments. The program opens with Elgar's "Salut d'amour (Love's Greeting)," which seems like a near-obligatory start for such a concert, Mutchnik notes with a laugh.

Mutchnik will also recite a Carl Sandburg poem about love early in a program that promises to include its share of commentary from the stage about the numerous pieces.

After the Elgar and Sandburg have been served, Mutchnik says the program proceeds to what he calls the "meat and potatoes" portion. Beethoven's Romance in F major and Dvorak's Romance in F minor are both relatively long pieces that respectively give a sense of romantic music in early-19th-century Germany and late-19th-century Czechoslovakia.

Then it's on to what he terms "short, beautiful vignettes" that encompass an assortment of 19th- and 20th-century composers from various countries.

Shostakovich's Romance from "The Gadfly" will sound familiar to listeners who recognize it as the theme music from the British TV series "Reilly, Ace of Spies." Although Shostakovich's muscular take on modern symphonic music typically does not earn him a place in concerts of romantic music, this piece finds the composer in an unusually tender mood.

Tchaikovksy's Melodie from "Souvenior of a Beloved Place" was composed as a musical gift for a patron, so this highly romantic 19th-century composer let the emotion flow.

Speaking of emotion, Kreisler's "Liebesleid" and "Liebesfreud" are bursting with that famous violinist and composer's emotionally expressive style; and Kreisler is also represented on the program by his arrangement of Rimsky-Korsakov's "Chanson Arabe," which itself is derived from that composer's "Scheherazade."

There's yet more to come, as the duo perform Svendsen's Romance in G, Sarasate's Romanza Andaluza, Reger's Romance, Sibelius' Romance, Wienawski's Romance from the Violin Concerto No. 2 in D minor, Deodat de Severac's Romantique, Zez Confrey's Romanza and Bernstein's "One Hand, One Heart" from "West Side Story."
As if all that already weren't a hearty program, Mutchnik tips his hand by mentioning that the audience can expect a George Gershwin number as an encore.

Violinist Ronald Mutchnik and pianist Daniel Wyneken perform Sunday, Feb. 12 at 3 p.m. at Christ Episcopal Church, at 6800 Oakland Mills Road in Columbia. Tickets are $15; those younger than 18 are free when accompanied by an adult. Call 443-288-3179 or go to http://www.sundaysatthree.org.

Copyright © 2012, The Baltimore Sun

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