On June 26th at the Greenwich House Music School in Greenwich Village, I was, along with my young companion, and a few other fortunate music lovers, given the privilege of experiencing the artistry of someone new to us, Ms. Melody Fader.
She is a pianist, relatively young, yet musically mature , who has already received such adjectives of praise in the press as ,” sumptuous”, “stirring”, and that she ” plays with elegance” ,when she has previously appeared at such New York venues as Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall, and Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall.
I do not merely concur with such assessments, but rather vigorously augment such positive censures in view of what my impressions were last month when hearing her accompany Emilie-Anne Gedron, (first violin of the Momenta Quartet) in the Mozart Sonata in E flat Major K.378, then next with two more members of the aforementioned Momenta, namely Stephanie Griffin, viola, and Michael Haas, cello, playing the Brahms G Minor Piano Quartet, Op. 25.
The clarity, brilliance and abundant humor of the Mozart sonata was joyously displayed by the two exceptionally gifted gentlewomen. It took considerable forbearance on my part not to disturb my fellow masked patrons of the Greenwich House not to giggle aloud with delight, particularly in the last movement of the Mozart, while well aware of Wolfgang’s effortless manner of conveying such jocular sonic information, although of a more subtle variety than with his later celebrated, “Musical Joke”.
Being introduced to the voluminous talents of both Ms.Fader and Ms. Gedron via this relatively early masterpiece, was a welcome discovery indeed. However, it insufficiently prepared me for the revelation of what was to follow when these two were joined by the violist, Stephanie Griffin, and cellist, Michael Haas,when the four of them summoned the Brahms Op. 25.
I’ve been familiar with this warrantably popular chamber music chestnut ever since, more than 40 years ago, the RCA recordings of Artur Rubinstein with the Guarneri Quartet were issued to the astonishment of the musical listening world. Then, more recently having acquired the Sony Classical CDs of the Isaac Stern, Emanuel Ax, Jaimie Laredo, and Yo-Yo Ma recordings made a few years before Stern’s passing, they have served as a similar mainstay of excellence, not merely with all of the Brahms so designated chamber works, but for all of the esteemed composers writing in that genre.
This early hit from the genius of Hamburg was so relished by subsequent musical minds who’ve been aware of its charms that no less of a contributor than Arnold Schoenberg orchestrated this piano quartet to serve,as,’twere, a ” first symphony” of this initially most reluctant symphonic composer to follow Beethoven in that form; although his mentor and champion, Robert Schumann, rightly predicted that the young Johannes would pick up the mantle of Ludwig with aplomb. Indeed, it was not until his Opus 68 in C minor that Brahms dared to offer a full symphony, so designated, several years after his Op.25, and then follow with three more over the remainder of his career. I’ve a fine recording of this orchestrated adaptation with the Baltimore Symphony and it’s much fun indeed. However, in terms of transparency, texture, and sheer clarity of Brahms’ advancing genius, his own original conception of piano, violin, viola, and cello remains the wisest.
In any case, I was fully prepared to enjoy the rendering of Fader and her Momenta Friends of this glorious piece of four brilliant parts combined to create the ingenious sum of synergy . And then they took off and surpassed my happiest of aural presumptions.
I swear, by all that’s dear to me, I never heard this piece played better! They attacked. They caressed. They Listened. They Abandoned. They Captured. They Transported. They summoned the Gypsy in the Rondo and left us all breathless with the best that Brahms had to offer from that time of his existence. And, as no doubt at this point you can tell, I became a Fader Fan.
Consequently, when I was informed that this pianist with the lilting musical Christian name was to give a recital in a private salon this month in SoHo of lower Manhattan, I jumped at the opportunity to hear how she would fare solo in that most intimate of settings, the salon, just as those fortunate few first heard the likes of Schubert, Chopin, and indeed in this town, Gershwin, by George!
So it was, that Wednesday evening, July 14th, Bastille Day somewhere on Broome St. (sworn to secrecy any further!), Ms. Melody Fader played a program on a century old Steinway Grand, before a choice audience of 20 souls while rescued from the heat and recent rains, a recital of consistent brilliance, and joyous communication consisting of works by Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, and Gershwin.
The petite Ms. Fader clad in a cool summer dress and invariably insisting that she’s most comfortable playing barefoot( unless the floor is cold!), began with two Chopin early Nocturnes, Op. 32, 1&2. She played this composer repeatedly throughout the evening and with good reason and effect.
She possesses a remarkable affinity for his particular varied poetry on his instrument. This was even more assuredly displayed later in the program with the Pole’s Waltz in C#Minor, and the more mature Nocturne in C minor Op. 48 #1.
Mozart was represented with his joyously brilliant Variations on ” Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star ” K. 265. Did anyone ever have more fun “wondering what you are”, than he? Doubt it. Ms. Fader was the perfect dextrous comedienne at the keyboard articulating his wit, while enabling mirth all round.
A first foray for her performing in public was the most familiar of Beethoven’s 32 sonata’s, the 14th in C# Minor, commonly known as “Moonlight”. This was an estimable commencement of what I’m certain shall be a staple in her repertory henceforth. It’s sheer intimate elegance never tires the listener when performed with intelligence and sans sentimentality. And so she did, and I look forward to hearing how she develops her approach with this deceptively simple ( in the first movement) masterpiece, that recalls a time when the composer could actually hear his own playing.
The program was formally completed with the first Prelude of George Gershwin’s three which conjured the swing that he intended and fittingly heard in his hometown, though technically he hailed from Brooklyn. Not possibly allowing her to end without an encore, yours truly was able to coax from her yet another delight of Chopin’s, the Fantaisie Impromptu, Chopin Op. 66 in that favorite key of the evening, C # Minor.(Op. Post.). This is the piece that later became known as ,” Always Chasing Rainbows”, ever since Cornel Wilde sang his ” Song To Remember”, in the mid-40’s. Happily, Ms. Melody “sang” it most memorably on the Steinway with perhaps the highest degree of authority for the recital. Indeed, she related that it was a favorite of hers since childhood.
The lucky listeners stood spontaneously showing our energetic appreciation for an artist who gave her best in one of the better settings, thanks to the gracious host and hostess, for listening to live music that was available Wednesday evening in our fair city that, I’m happy to report, is “COMIN’ BACK!’
Anyone reading this who is in a position to engage MELODY FADER for future performances , be it in the New York area, or depending on the circumstances, what you will, where you will, Contact: [email protected] & www.melodyfader.com
Photos: Courtesy of Melody Fader unless otherwise noted.