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Life’s Stages: A Collaboration, Presented by Karen Kaapcke and Alan Moverman at National Opera Center

- Classical and Cultural Connections: Special Events

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Life’s Stages: A Collaboration
Painter: Karen Kaapcke / Pianist: Alan Moverman
Cellist: Maureen McDermott

Supported by the Artist’s Study of Southampton
Reception by 67 Wine & Spirits

National Opera Center
(National Opera Center Website)
330 7th Avenue, 7th Floor
NY, NY 10001

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
March 16, 2018

“Adagio” from Toccata, Adagio and Fugue in C major, BWV 564 (1717), by Johann Sebastian Bach, Painting: “Adagio” by Karen Kaapcke.

Sonata for Cello and Piano in D minor (1915): “Prologue”, “Sérénade”, Finale”, by Claude Debussy, Painting: “Oculus” by Karen Kaapcke.

Fur Alina (1976), by Arvo Pärt, Painting: “Forest” by Karen Kaapcke.

Piano Fantasy (1957), by Aaron Copland, Painting: “Fantasy” by Karen Kaapcke.

“Here’s that Rainy Day” (1953), Bill Evans arrangement, by Jimmy Van Heusen, Painting: “Here’s That Rainy Day” by Karen Kaapcke.

Piano Sonata No. 32 in C minor, Op. 111 (1822): “Maestoso”, “Arietta”, by Ludwig van Beethoven, Painting: “Opus 111” by Karen Kaapcke.

Alan Moverman, a solo pianist at New York City Ballet, who has been favorably reviewed on these pages for his solo and chamber piano accompaniment on stage and in the pit, during renowned and contemporary ballets, performed the above piano pieces tonight at National Opera Center in Chelsea. Mr. Moverman has performed with City Ballet and numerous orchestras across the globe, and he has recorded for various labels. He was joined by cellist, Maureen McDermott, for the Debussy Sonata. Ms. McDermott teaches at Mannes, at The New School’s College of Performing Arts and has performed around the globe in chamber ensembles and orchestral concerts. On the walls, and projected above the grand piano, were prints and slides of Karen Kaapcke’s paintings, each conceived over the past couple of years, as Mr. Moverman and Ms. Kaapcke collaborated on this artistic project, called “Life’s Stages: A Collaboration”. Their project, a “turning upside-down of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition”, was based on Ms. Kaapcke creating figurative, abstract, and scenic paintings that reflect her inspiration from piano works chosen by Mr. Moverman. The Russian, Modest Mussorgsky’s 1874 work for solo piano was an homage to watercolors and drawings by the musician’s artist friend, Viktor Hartmann. Ms. Kaapcke’s artworks, including those inspired by music, can be explored on her website. Ms. Kaapcke teaches in her studio and at workshops.

Playing Busoni’s piano transcription for the Bach Toccata “Adagio”, I heard many brief, mournful, melancholy, and yearning passages. Ms. Kaapcke’s paired painting, “Adagio”, features a female figure, bent over, with what may be red flames rising into the air, and black crows, forebodingly reminiscent of Van Gogh’s 1890, near-death “Wheatfield with Crows”. During Mr. Moverman’s performance of the Debussy Sonata for Cello and Piano, I noted that the “Prologue” seemed unusually muscular for Debussy. At the same time, I saw Ms. Kaapcke’s painting, “Oculus”, with imagery of machinery in the background of strong, vibrant figures. The “Sérénade” included swirling, dancelike rhythms, fragmented like kaleidoscopic shapes in motion, and the “Finale” was dervish and dynamic. This was the only piece in which Ms. McDermott performed, and her cello passages and solos were sumptuous and engaging. The Arvo Pärt “Fur Alina”, named for the daughter of a friend, was elegant, poignant, and brief. It ends in staccato fragments that implode, then melt. Ms. Kaapcke’s paired painting, bleeding in lines of red against pink, is called “Forest”.

Mr. Moverman played the Copland Fantasy, with its atonal glass-like tonal imagery, with sensitivity and languor. This piece was glistening, and, sure enough, Ms. Kaapcke paired it with a painting called “Fantasy”, with numerous figures tightly huddled on what seemed a glass plank, with imagery of a lake in the backdrop. All the figures embrace, with a single leg lifted within. A scenic backdrop also includes craggy rocks at the landline. The Bill Evans piano arrangement of “Here’s that Rainy Day” was next, impressionistic, pointillistic, and suave, thanks to Mr. Moverman’s mastery. Ms. Kaapcke’s paired painting was titled for the Van Heusen song, and it depicted a clothed figure, seemingly a man, standing in water outside a window, with only his lower body reflection apparent. Two hands, one with a wedding band, pull the interior venetian blinds open to reveal the figure. It speaks for itself.

The final piano work, a monumental and magnificent one, which was awarded many audience accolades at the finale, was Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 32. The piece exuded depth and drama, and Ms. Kaapcke’s sizeable, paired painting, “Opus 111”, includes a black-white checkerboard floor with a woman in black undergarments in the foreground, her profile walking left. Her face, chest, waist, and hips are covered with generous red stripes, hiding her details and identity, perhaps. Four additional, smaller, distant figures in the background seem to include men and women. A fifth, vanishing in hazy white, through a doorway or glass exit, can also be seen. Their backs face the viewer. The “Arietta” movement, jazzy and challenging, was smoothly performed by the seasoned Mr. Moverman. Kudos to Alan Moverman, Karen Kaapcke, and also to Maureen McDermott for this aesthetic, thought-provoking special event.

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at