On Saturday night I went to see Sarah E. Geller perform. It had been an absolutely crazy weekend, my computer died which was followed by internet service failure, and I just needed a couple of hours away from the madness. So at the last-minute I purchased a ticket to see Sarah E. Geller. I appreciate classical music although I can’t tell you much about it beyond what I like and don’t like. However, I really like the violin so when I heard by chance Geller was playing, I went for it.
As it turns out, I ran into two people I knew at the concert so we ended up sitting together. It was a bit odd in that once Geller appeared I kept feeling like I had run into her somewhere else. I have been rolling this over in my brain ever since but if that is true, I don’t know where. Just one of those strange encounter moments I guess for I am sure I have never seen her play before.
Geller dove straight into her piece and when I say dove into it I mean she didn’t acknowledge the audience until after the first piece which I found odd. Her set for the evening was Frei Aber Einsam – Free But Lonely as composed collectively by Beethoven, Schumann, Brahms, and Joachim. She played it beautifully and masterly. While I felt like she was uncomfortable with the audience there is no doubt she was very much at home with the music making it a joy to sit and listen to during the evening. I particularly enjoyed the part of the program composed by Schumann and Beethoven.
Geller was accompanied by Wenhan Anderson on the piano and she stepped in as the backup fine. Actually, I kept thinking it might have been nice to see a program where Anderson had a little more give and take with Geller both musically and personally. The two know each other well having played numerous times together and I think it would have been an interesting twist to the evening for it was clear Anderson was every bit as skilled.
I would listen to Geller play anytime. It was delightful and moving. If there was a knock – and it would be a minor one at worse – it was as I have alluded to, her stage presence. While she seems personable, she had trouble connecting to the audience in the sense she didn’t bring them along with her playing. A jazz performer becomes their music and the audience will sense this. A rock performance often finds the audience has their songs at home so there is that connection. A folk singer shares their emotions. Sometimes classical musicians let the formality of the music bar them from making that audience connection. Yet, classical audiences may need the connection more as they may or may not know the music and often have never heard the musician before.
Overall, I say if you get a chance to see Geller or Anderson then do so. It is well worth the ticket for the violin is definitely an integral part of her.