ALASKA DISPATCH NEWS: Seats added for sold-out chamber music series

February 6, 2016
Mike Dunham

Although all three concerts in the Alaska Airlines Winter Classics chamber music series sold out before it opened, additional seats have been put onstage. On Friday night some were added to the sides of the balcony. It’s a narrow, somewhat precarious location, but one was pleased to see the UAA Recital Hall full.

Friday’s program opened with Debussy’s fiery Cello Sonata in D Minor. Zuill Bailey, accompanied by pianist Eduard Zilberkant, made the most of the cello part, which is one of the most emotionally charged pieces in the literature, full of angst and fury. There have been other times when a solo string instrument shared the stage with a piano that had its lid all the way open, and the result was that one struggled to hear the string. That was not the case here. The cello more than held its own. In places, it boomed.

It remained strong and perhaps overpowered violinist Cecily Ward and violist Ethan Filner, members of the Cypress String Quartet, this year’s guest performers, who joined Bailey in the next piece, Beethoven’s rangy, six movement String Trio Op. 3. That’s not necessarily a bad thing in that the more separate the three instruments can sound in this work, the better. Thought written early on, in 1793, it often approaches the experimental ether of the string quartets from the end of Beethoven’s career. This is particularly true in the first Menuetto, which coyly employs unexpected rests to suggest that a fourth part is missing before breaking into a beautifully songful trio.

Schumann’s Piano Quartet in E-flat Major wrapped up the night. The performance had some rough edges but the audience was pleased with the energy of the finale. And I found my eyes moistening in the slow movement, built around one of the most gorgeous melodies Schumann or anyone else ever wrote.

THE ALASKA AIRLINES WINTER CLASSICS SERIES, featuring the Cypress String Quartet, continued at the UAA Fine Arts Building recital hall Saturday evening. The final program will be at 4 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are available at