Blue Robot

A Review of Arthur Goldstein’s June 15 Concerts at The State Theatre

Posted by Kayla Tooma on 06/18 at 04:35 PM

Archie Blue (far left, Arthur Goldstein)


Local artist and professor of music history at Penn State, Arthur Goldstein, had quite a busy Saturday this past weekend, as he was performing in his own miniature music festival, Intersections. He performed three separate shows at 4pm, 7pm, and 9pm at The State Theatre consisting of a piano recital, a jazz quartet performance, and lastly a reunion of his progressive-rock band, Archie Blue, respectively. I had the pleasure of attending the first two performances.

The piano recital had four pieces ordered by their date of composition, the first two being classical works, Beethoven’s Sonata Pathétique op. 13, no. 8 and Chopin’s Premeire Ballade op. 23. The second two were twentieth century pieces, Alban Berg’s Sonate op. 1 (in one movement) and Samuel Barber’s Excursions. As I took my seat for the afternoon piano recital, an older gentleman sitting next to me beamed with pride that Goldstein is his piano teacher. Immediately, I thought that Mr. Goldstein must be a man passionate about music to dedicate himself as a professor, a performer, and as a private tutor to help spread music and the joy of playing piano to others in his community. And indeed, this passion shined through as he took his seat and began to perform Beethoven’s Sonata Pathétique (op. 13, no. 8).

Goldstein’s face and entire body was filled with emotion and passion as he played Sonata Pathétique beautifully. His dynamics throughout the piece really helped to build and relieve tension, which emanated the emotions of the piece to the audience who were all intently watching and listening. I could really feel and hear a story being told. The first movement was gorgeous and serious, loud, like a bellowing cry, and commanding attention from the audience. The second movement was light, romantic, sorrowful yet hopeful. The lights even changed between movements from red to blue, perhaps to add to the shift from heaviness to a lighter, calmer sound. The third movement was, as the name suggests, far more fast-paced with lovely rhythm that actually made me want to get up and dance!

His rendition of Chopin’s Premeire Ballade op. 23 was as moving as the previous piece, if not more so. A composer of the Romanticism movement, Chopin’s music was a great example of the emotional, poetic music of the era. Goldstein brought that original beauty to life on stage while performing this piece. Contrasted with intense dynamics, gorgeous melodies, and a perfect build and release of tensions, this piece was perhaps my favorite of the piano recital.

After a brief intermission, came the second part of the recital featuring twentieth century pieces. He took a moment to explain the thought of twentieth century composers who were trying to break free from their predecessors and began to utilize twelve-tone techniques. As someone who never really cared for twentieth century music, I was feeling slightly less excited about this second half. Recalling what I learned about twentieth century music back in AP Music Theory in high school, I remembered it to be experimental, atonal, and it just did not make sense to me. However, the pieces Goldstein chose were not the random banging’s of keys I had assumed would be coming. Instead, the music was lovely, fast-paced, and lively. The second of the two latter pieces featured a dance performance by Pemmi that followed the life cycle of a butterfly throughout Excursions’s four movements. Initially, I was intrigued by the pretty amazing caterpillar costume and her movements being exactly like that of a caterpillar. But while it was nice to have something to watch while enjoying the music, it kind of devolved into something reminiscent of a 4th grade school play. Also, as the performance went on, I found it to be distracting from the musical performance.

The second show, as mentioned, was a jazz quartet, titled The Arthur Goldstein Jazz Quartet, which featured Goldstein on piano, Steve Bowman on tenor and soprano saxophones, James Robinson on bass violin and cello, and Kevin Lowe on drums. One thing I found particularly enjoyable was the nonverbal communications between all four band members. They always seemed to be communicating, watching, and playing with each other, rather than as separate musicians who happen to be playing at the same time. The quartet performed eight different pieces, featuring two original songs, one by Kevin Lowe and the other by mister Goldsetin himself.

My personal favorite piece was their rendition of Jimmy Giuffre’s “River Chant” that Goldstein described as “exotic”, and it certainly was. The song began with Lowe making a mystic, rain-like music on the drums. Bowman’s saxophone on the piece was especially beautiful, and was almost like a human voice singing. Robinson, who is particularly fun to watch for his many expressive faces, rocked on bass the entire evening.

The band also performed Earl Zindars’s “How My Heart Sings” which featured Bowman on the soprano saxophone. It was a nice change up and, as with “River Chant,” he just seems to make the sax sing. In addition to those two pieces, and their two original songs, the men featured songs from Mel Walden, Lennie Tristano, and ended on a rather interesting numver by Bill Dobbins named “Vortex.” “Vortex” was fun and filled with playfulness between the musicians. A cute back-and-forth between Robinson and Goldstein had the audience giggling.

The four men were a pleasure to watch and listen to. I enjoyed how on almost every piece, each got a chance to showcase their instrument and talents. They put on a terrific, fun show and I, along with the audience, absolutely loved them.

{name} Author: Kayla Tooma
Bio: Kayla Tooma is a senior majoring in English at Penn State. She hails from the great island of Long Island, NY. When she’s not writing, she can be found playing piano, reading medieval literature, watching unhealthy amounts of space documentaries, and making some kind of lame pun. Her favorite genres include a variety of rock, pop, indie, and metal. Some of her favorite artists include My Chemical Romance, Lana Del Rey, Queen, MIKA, No Doubt, Lady Gaga, HIM, The Smiths, The Jane Austen Argument, The Beatles, Beirut, The Dresden Dolls, and The White Stripes. She also has a sweet spot for pop goddesses like Cher, Madonna, and Britney Spears.

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