Daniel Weiser is a fine collaborative pianist as well as a musicologist with a million stories about both the famous and the less-known musicians of the past. He has made a name for himself since moving to Asheville through the many chamber music concerts he has arranged. And now we find out that he is also a talent scout. He discovered Rachel Patrick.
Ms. Patrick, whose mother works at Indiana University's famous Jacobs School of Music, discovered the violin at age three. A graduate of the University of Michigan with a master's degree from Indiana University studying with Alexander Kerr, she is now beginning a career for herself in German orchestras. Given her musical intelligence as well as her technical proficiency, I believe that she will go far in either Germany or the United States, in orchestras and in chamber music.
Like any prospector who strikes gold, Dr. Weiser has made the most of his discovery. He performed with Ms. Patrick in Vermont when she was still a Michigan undergraduate, and has since concertized with her in both New England and Western North Carolina. This past week, they collaborated for three concerts in three venues. Saturday's concert at the White Horse Black Mountain attracted nearly a hundred classical music lovers. It is remarkable that a crowd of that size, seated cabaret style with wine and beer as distractions, was so attentive and respectful of the music. I think they knew they were hearing quality.
The bookends of this concert were Jules Massenet's "Meditation" from Thaïs (the opener) and Fritz Kreisler's "Liebeslied" (the encore), crowd pleasers that were dispatched with elegance and beauty. But the three works that formed the guts of the concert were each, in their way, different demonstrations of the musicianship of this pair.
Clara Schumann's Opus 22 is a suite of three Romances for violin and pianoforte. The "Andante molto" is introspective and deep. The "Allegretto" is a happy work, primarily for piano. The "Leidenschaftlich schnell" makes sophisticated use of the full resources of both players, with thematic material passed between them and a lot of varied articulation. The teamwork was excellent, and I was surprised to learn later that Ms. Patrick had not played the work until this week; it was brand new to her. One would never have known.
The major work before intermission was Johannes Brahms's Sonata in A major, Opus 100. There are five moments in the second movement where the performers leap from an andante to a vivace, or back again, in a way that could be ungainly. But Patrick and Weiser made these transitions sound natural, even inevitable. In the third and final movement, a gorgeous low register tone proved to be a significant strength of Ms. Patrick.
The highly romantic Sonata in C minor, Opus 45 of Edvard Grieg came after intermission. We experienced passionate bowing and storms on the fjord in the first movement, the elegance of simplicity in the second movement (reminiscent of Grieg's "Vanished Days" from Lyric Pieces for solo piano) and reveled in the third movement's arpeggios and cool Nordic cadences.
It was a thoroughly romantic concert, unabashedly named "Really Romantic." My only regret is that we didn't hear this talented duo in classical and twentieth-century works. Perhaps we shall get a chance at some future time. If so, White Horse Black Mountain may sell out. Get there early.