Tickling the SteinwayHis fingers leaping, arching, extending, pounding and caressing the piano keys, pianist Dr. Peter Arnstein entertained an appreciative audience at William Kelley auditorium in Silver Bay recently.
By: Nancy Piersel, Northern Lake County Arts Board, Lake County News Chronicle
His fingers leaping, arching, extending, pounding and caressing the piano keys, pianist Dr. Peter Arnstein entertained an appreciative audience at William Kelley auditorium in Silver Bay recently.
Explaining his choice of music for the night’s program, Arnstein humorously related his connection to Franz Liszt through a long line of musicians and their teachers stretching back to Beethoven.
This concert was set up to resemble one of Liszt’s. A rock star in his time, Liszt created a series of innovations that reflect how we see music performed today. He was the first to give a piano recital alone on stage, to perform works from memory, to turn the piano and his face in profile to the audience (thus showing more of a musician’s body and finger work), to promote the work of other composers (even his friend and rival, Chopin) and to revitalize works of J.S. Bach, playing works not even played in Bach’s lifetime.
Arnstein began the evening with the powerful, expressive work Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue (c. 1720) by Johann Sebastian Bach.
He followed with the beautiful and lyrical Sonata in A Major, Op. 120, written in 1819 by Franz Schubert. In playing Franz Liszt’s Dance of the Gnomes (1861-63), Arnstein sprightly transported us to a world of magical creatures.
#Arnstein favored the audience with two of his own compositions. His Brazilian Nocturne no. 1 and Brazilian Dance no. 5 is a rhythmic, rounded piece flavored with a South Amercian beat.
Blind Mice Ballade is a variation of the piece he played last year. Arnstein prefers to start with a recognizable tune and expand on it. One could hear rodents running up and down the piano keys as Arnstein wove his music around the familiar children’s song. As Kelley music teacher Dave Haaversen remarked, “Arnstein is a brilliant musician but it’s a rare pleasure to listen to a composer play their own work.”
In 1849 Liszt wrote Les Funerailles (Funerals) as an ode to friends killed in the many revolutions of the time. An emotional piece, you could hear bells tolling a lament for lost loved ones, then a march of life continuing. Arnstein lifted the audience back up by finishing the evening on a lighter, livelier note with the popular Polonaise in A-flat Major, Op. 53 (1842) by Frederic Chopin.
Although from Minneapolis and a profesor of music at St. Paul Conservatory of Music, Arnstein is no stranger to the school’s Steinway grand piano.
In past fund raising concerts here for the Northern Lake County Arts Board, he has been the piano accompanist for violinist, Michael Antonello. This year’s concert was to help the Arts Board raise money for William Kelley’s Steinway, now 50 years old and in need of extensive repair.
The mark of a great musician is to not only be technically proficient (and Arnstein’s finger work is unbelievable) but also to make the music more accessible. Arnstein’s warmth and wit combined with his superbly wonderful piano playing just marveled this audience.
After the Steinway’s restoration is complete, we hope to see this fine pianist back for an encore performance. Anyone wishing to help with the Steinway’s repair can send their donation to the Northern Lake County Arts Board, PO Box 67, Silver Bay, MN 55614.