Driving rain did not dampen the spirits of the music lovers who came out for an October 13 benefit concert to support the chamber music series' endowment at the Weymouth Center in Southern Pines.
Nancy Green, cellist (http://web.cfa.arizona.edu/people/bio.php?bio=82 - inactive 8/05), and Frederick Moyer, pianist (http://www.jrirecordings.com/Pages/Artists/FMoyer.html [inactive 7/06]), played to spontaneous standing ovations both at intermission and at the finale. They asked the audience's choice of encore: a repeat of the last movement of the Rachmaninoff, or The Swan . The Swan fans out-shouted the former, and just as well, as we had already heard the bombastic Rachmaninoff and a repeat would have created an anti-climax. At last it was time to hear the fervent, dulcet tones of the cello more in the style of classics remembered under the bow strokes of the incomparable Pablo Casals.
So the encore was to be, in the original French, Le Cygne , from Le Carnaval des animaux, by Camille Saint-Saëns. Never more pleasing, during this performance, the cello was sensitively complemented with clarity by Green's cousin, Frederick Moyer, at the piano. Moyer is an acclaimed internationally recognized concert artist in his own right, as is Green. The two are an international recording artist team.
North Carolinians delight in welcoming Green and Moyer as the grandchildren of favorite son, the late Paul Green of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, playwright and founder of the symphonic outdoor drama. Theater under the stars, according to Mark Sumner in his foreword to the 1985 book Outdoor Drama *, has been around since the beginning of mankind. Nevertheless, you will often hear Paul Green called "The Father of Outdoor Drama" among North Carolinians who are rightfully proud of his achievements. The Paul Green Foundation of Chapel Hill made possible this fund raising benefit concert, the first ever Weymouth benefit from which funds are to be reserved for music. In the past funds have been sought for Weymouth Restoration. www.weymouthcenter.org
Certainly playwright Green, known also for his contributions in Hollywood, was founder of a movement to promote outdoor theater. His students have followed his example begun with The Lost Colony in Manteo. They, together with many newcomers to the medium, have become responsible today for many more than 100 outdoor amphitheaters in the United States, a majority of which portray epic historical drama of events that occurred on the sites at which the plays are now being presented. These reflections of colonial life and other facets of American history, "create a sense of pilgrimage, " according to Mark Sumner, and a lasting impression especially on families who enjoy them together. Many outdoor dramas have celebrated more than 50 years. (Denman Thompson's The Old Homestead , now seen annually in its own outdoor amphitheater in East Swanzey, New Hampshire, has by comparison, counting its years on Broadway, passed its 100th anniversary.)
The Duo warmed the venue first with strains from J.S. Bach's Adagio for Cello in C minor, S.564, arranged by Siloti from a toccata for organ. Then followed Sergei Rachmaninoff's strenuous Sonata for Piano and Cello, Op. 19. This four-movement score ( Lento-Allegro Moderato; Allegro scherzando; Andante; Allegro mosso ) served as an ample test for the new ceiling plaster if not the ancient rafters of Weymouth, recently reinforced in structure and refurbished with understated elegance replacing the recent "genteel shabby" appearance.
Moyer, in particular, is a specialist in Rachmaninoff, having recorded a CD of the program that he concertized internationally during a recent anniversary year of the composer. The pedaling seemed a little too continuous in this instance, with the duo partner striving with stunning strokes to make her own mark. She almost succeeded by the third movement. Nevertheless, piano power, from my vantagepoint, outplayed cello power during most of the afternoon program.
One music professional remarked that she would not have recognized the Sonata for Cello and Piano as being by Claude Debussy. However, the two movements, Lent and Serenade et Finale opened the second part of the program with great beauty.
The Duo used good taste in programming the Three Hungarian Dances of Johannes Brahms out of order, but so as to follow one another in an artistic fashion. They were Nos. 21, 20 and 18, played in that order. The arranger was Piatti. The moods ranged from happy to pensive to brisk.
Most people were taken with delight and surprise at their first hearing of Pampeana No. 2 by Alberto Ginastera. Indigenous to the Pampas region of Argentina, it was inspired by jazzy folk music as well as the landscape of the area. Delightful wild syncopation led to its enjoyment after the crash entry of the piano, followed by cello calls; later, the cellist was required to produce bass viol tones, which she mastered with no problem. Green excelled in interpreting agitato passages here once again.
An impressive footnote of the day was that UNC alumnus Richard Adler, of Pajama Game and Damn Yankees fame, was moved by this generous project to contribute $1,000 to the music fund at Weymouth Center, in the names of the late Katherine and James Boyd, whose longtime home was the Weymouth mansion. Glenn Brillhart, a Weymouth spokesperson, also announced that Adler will participate in a November 9 benefit to refurbish UNC Chapel Hill's Memorial Hall. Consult CVNC 's calendar for details.
Special interest footnote: the page-turner was Nancy Green's son, Jonathan, of Tucson, Arizona, great-grandson of the late Paul Green, Sr.
[*Editor's note: The author of Outdoor Drama , published by North South Artscope Publications in 1985 and now out-of-print (but available through the Interlibrary Loan network), is the author of this review.]