by Peter Aaron
Cellist Peter Wiley is, for lack of a better term, a rock star of the classical world. Named principal cellist of the Cincinnati Symphony at age 20, he’s a member of the legendary Guarneri Quartet, the piano quartet Opus One, and the Grammy-nominated Beaux Arts Trio; a Bard College Conservatory of Music instructor, he’s also been on the faculty of the prestigious Curtis Institute of Music since 1996 and was awarded a prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant. And you’ll have your chance to see him in action at Vassar College on February 15, when he joins esteemed pianist Anna Polonsky in a marathon concert of Beethoven’s complete works for piano and cello.
The concert will include five sonatas spanning Beethoven’s creative output chronologically, as well as three sets of variations. “The variations are all earlier works of Beethoven’s, and are very charming, witty, and a showcase of virtuosity for both players,” says Polonsky, an adjunct artist in music at Vassar. “The five sonatas are representative of Beethoven’s writing throughout his life, from the early, tempestuous, Haydn-esque writing, to the profound, sublime late-Beethoven style.” Polonsky has high praise for Wiley, with whom she has played in numerous chamber configurations. “Peter is one of the greatest cellists active today,” she says. “Hearing Peter in this repertoire will be a rare and precious treat for any music lover.”
To get an idea of what Polonsky’s talking about, check out this video of Wiley performing on a bit of Beethoven’s Trio for Clarinet, Cello, and Piano in B-flat Major:
The February 15 concert will take place at Vassar College’s Skinner Hall in Poughkeepsie. The program will be presented in two segments, with the first beginning at 3pm. There will be a break to allow audience members to have dinner; the second portion of begins at 8pm. The event is free. For more information, call (845) 437-7319 or visit http://music.vassar.edu/.