By James F. Cotter
For the Times Herald-Record
It's hard to believe that the music of the spheres could be heard shimmering through such a humble instrument as a saw, but that's what the audience experienced at the Grand Montgomery Chamber Music Series concert Sunday afternoon at Wesley all in Montgomery.
An eerie otherworldly sound flowed from the bow and saw of Dale Stuckenbruck while Steve Margoshes, whose compositions were played, offered earthy and forceful piano dialogue and solos. The program was aptly titled "Sawing to New Heights With Steve and Dale."
The concert opened with "I Want To Make Magic" from Margoshes' international hit "Fame - The Musical." Vigorous piano base supported the high whirring sound of the saw, almost electronic in its harmonics. Smooth and sensuous, the notes seemed to reach for the stars while staying rooted in the solid piano chords.
"Neopolitan Serenade" followed, replete with folk tunes and colorific contrast. The vocal qualities of the saw mimicked the human voice; in fact, the two kinds of saws used where the soprano and alto. The romantic first and last movements enclosed a rapid allegro and a lyrical dance movement as in the classical form.
Margoshes next played a piano solo, "Chemin des Aires," a tone poem with a quick-paced introduction and melodic middle and climax, all to the spirit of hitting the open road. In contrast, "'The Dream' Theme," with Stukenbruck and his mysterious saw and Margoshes' lush piano support, created a world of intimate longing marked by the transcendent vibrations of the saw. "Let's Play a Love Scene" was another dramatic lyric from "Fame" and "Hudson River Song" evoked the rhythms and motion of water flowing through mountains.
After intermission, Stuckenbruck displayed his virtuoso talent on the violin in a tour-de-force "Variations on the Tango." Margoshes' piano explored the five-tone tango theme through myriad variations as the saw soared in shifting tones and scales; the duet sprang from one fresh improvisation to another with pianistic diapasons and violin trills. "The God Dog Rag," a solo by Margoshes, thundered with bold attacks and rolling beat in a strong display of ragtime rhythms.
The two then joined in playing the final set. "A Chinese Melody" managed to be both eerie and restful in its plaintive Orientalism. "October Song" sounded haunting in its impression of falling leaves and chilly winds in the trees, while "Song Without Words" summed up the art of these two passionate performers in reaching for the expressive speaking voice that underlies the universal language of music.
The pair rewarded the audience for their standing ovation with a humorous "Procession for Two," which allowed each performer to play until one packed up his saws and left while the other completed the program.
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