Tanya Anisimova with the Virginia Beach Symphony

     On November 21, 2004 at the Pavilion Theater, in a program titled Simply Schumann, David Kunkel, Music Director and Conductor, led the orchestra in three pieces by Robert Schumann (1810-1856).

      The program opened with the Manfred Overture, composed at the "urging of inner voices." From the program notes we learn that Schumann identified with Lord Byron's Manfred, a melancholy hero full of inner turmoil. The piece has a dark, brooding quality, well captured by the orchestra as well as some lovely string passages.

      Ms. Anisimova was guest soloist in the Cello Concerto in a minor, Op. 129. Woodwinds and pizzicato strings opened the piece with a brief introduction followed by the solo cello's announcement of the main theme. The guest instrumentalist was prominently featured throughout this soulful piece with many crisp rhythmic passages. The three movements are played without pause.

      Schumann wrote the Concerto in a period of energy and enthusiasm, pouring his special affinity for the cello into his writing, even though he never mastered the instrument himself. The famous cellist Pablo Casals called it "one of the finest works one could wish to hear."

      Ms. Anisimova has written "The irregularity and the sporadic movement of Schumann's musical thoughts makes this piece sound like a stream of consciousness, a monologue of a tormented soul. Schumann strikes me as a person whose creativity sprang from his illness, from the dual nature of his personae. The Cello Concerto has tempest-like moments, which are followed, sometimes immediately, by a mesmerizing moment of total stillness."

      Ms. Anisimova is an artist of great sensitivity who is able to capture the essence of these emotional experiences in her playing. She continues, "In his book Doors of Perception, about altered states of consciousness, Aldous Huxley describes a state of mind of tremendous, almost unbearable light, whose opposite is heavy darkness. Both of these states are constant experiences that tormented souls, mentally ill people have. Huxley believes that seeing this extreme light is itself an experience very similar to the state of Spiritual Vision. However, if this person is "not ready" to receive such a gift, it may become the reason for great suffering."

      The audience was captivated by her playing and after enthusiastic applause, Ms. Anisimova gifted us with a cello improvisation as an encore. In it you could hear echoes of Bach with an eerie, haunting cry, her voice and cello in duet. The instrumental sounds and her clear vocalise broadly sweep across an interior plane, creating great beauty.

     The second half of the program presented Schumann's Third Symphony, which is a portrayal of life along the Rhine river with its mist enshrouded mornings inspiring the leisurely scherzo. In the fourth movement the dynamic range expands and then concludes with a friendly, relaxed passage.

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