GLEN RIDGE, NJ — The Glen Ridge Community Concert Series presented Brett Deubner, viola, and Thomas Steigerwald, piano, on Sunday, March 10, at the Glen Ridge Congregational Church. The program offered a sonata by Cesar Franck, 1822-1890, and one by Sergei Rachmaninoff 1873-1943.
Duebner is a borough resident and a hometown favorite. He has performed as a viola soloist with 70 orchestras. Steigerwald made his orchestral debut at the age of 18. He received his master’s at Juilliard in 2018.
In introducing the Franck sonata, Duebner said it was first written for the violin as a wedding gift for a friend. Maybe because of this, he said it generated the unfriendly comment that its first part sounded like two people falling in love followed by the couple’s first fight, then reflection and finally, old age and the feeling “it wasn’t that bad,” said Duebner.
The Rachmaninoff sonata “is one of our favorites,” Duebner said. Both musicians are to play it this summer in a 20-city tour of China. Duebner was especially appreciative of the sonata because Rachmaninoff wrote the piano part not as an accompaniment, but as an equal partner. He said the sonata was a ride to be enjoyed.
Following the concert, Duebner said he and Steigerwald played together two years ago calling Steigerwald a “wonderful accompanist.” He said he spends about six months on the road.
Steigerwald said Duebner makes an idea easy to follow.
“Not every viola player can play Racmaninoff like that,” he said.
Steigerwald said he likes being an accompanist.
“Where I grew up is southwest Texas, I was taking lessons in San Antonio,” he said. “My family was the only group of classical musicians in town. When I got to the conservatory, I was excited to play with other people.”
Refreshments were provided by members of the church.