In this world of broken hearts and fall aparts it’s pretty rare that I get a truly novel experience. And yet last night – last night was one of those rare nights that truly was special and gave me a glimpse into one of those wondrous worlds that are too often forgot. Bargemusic is one of the most exciting places to see classical music performed in Brooklyn. Not only are there top notch musicians (More on that later) but the titular barge offers a beautiful view onto downtown Manhattan and proves that there still is a lot of magic left in the classical world. As I felt the boat gently rocked by the tide I found myself carried off to another planet of grandiose sounds and great adventures.
This particular evening featured the first half of a series of Beethoven Sonatas for Violin and Piano performed by Mark Peskanov and Nina Kogan – both quasi legendary figures in their own right. As they play, with torrents of notes exploding from their respective instruments you find yourself lost in the sheer bombast of the music. Peskanov in particular plays with a sort of poetic charisma that invokes an older time and a greater power. You find yourself entranced alongside him, enthralled with his barely parted lips and look of intense concentration. Meanwhile – Kogan plays with a riveting intensity, her fingers dancing across the keys leaving the listener wholly entranced. She is clearly aware of the grandeur of the music she is unveiling before the world and it’s hard not to fall in love with her playing.
The pieces themselves seemed to take on a whole new dimension in Bargemusics’ unique setting. While I was previously familiar with the works Peskanov’s potent playing infused it with a whole new level of magic. During the flashiest moments I was reminded of my beloved glam metal guitarists, pulling the instrument to next extremes. As this is all going on, as you wonder at how such beautiful music could come from the hands of just two musicians the boat continues to rock – providing a comforting sense of motion into a concert that might otherwise become overwhelming.
Yesterday evening was, of course, my first at Bargemusic and I was instantly struck by the apparently very laid back atmosphere of the place. As you walk in you see Peskanov shredding it up on violin behind the will call. The man is so entranced with the instrument that he will even play during the intermission. It creates a sense of adulation for the music that exudes from the great man and into the crowd. Perhaps it is this very love that makes for an audience that do not appear to be regular classical music attendees but rather art lovers of all kinds. You see – the longer you spend taking in the power of Bargemusic the more you fall in love with the concept of it all.
The fact of the matter is that these days a lot of folks tend to feel overwhelmed by classical music. They find it stodgy and alienating. But my experience with Bargemusic has proved to me at least that it can be exactly the opposite – liberating, passionate, and fun. If the music we love from centuries ago is to continue to reign triumphant in this modern age then venues like Bargemusic are exactly what we need – giving us a sense of liberation despite any sort of agony that might stalk the listener. Last night the triumphant and powerful Peskanov and Kogan lifted the gathered masses out of the murk and into the heavens.