A Review: Local composer debuts exquisite new music

By DR. LAWRENCE N. COSNER JR.

News Review Correspondent

It was my privilege last Saturday evening to experience one of the most charming, beautiful and moving chamber concerts I’ve ever attended, listening to original compositions of local son, Patrick Rindt.

It is not hyperbole to say that the concert was both emotionally and technically overwhelming: the scope, intensity and deep meaning of the rich, varied and lyrical music we heard was from that realm often thought of as the province of the great composers of the past. But then, perhaps music lovers of the future will so-group Rindt.

It is said that exposure to much – and different – music fosters a greater appreciation. And I believe that is so. But it also feels, at times, like that much musical experience runs the risk of blunting the wonder; after all, one asks, “Haven’t I heard it all?” Yet Rindt’s debut as a composer utterly denies any worries in that regard. He, like many of the truly gifted, was able to borrow from the past – that long winding, road stretching back more than a thousand years in Western musical history – and render up for our pleasure and astonishment that which was simultaneously hauntingly ancient and glitteringly new.

Of course, Rindt’s own prowess as a pianist doesn’t hurt the brilliance of the music. Despite being limited to his left hand only – the result of prior musculoskeletal injuries – he is able to play with a single hand what most pianists could not with two. Or maybe even three. All the piano portions were played by Rindt and, though it won’t be further noted, all were solely left hand (though, as noted in the program, with liberal and aggressive use of the pedals). Add then to that mix the professional-quality musicians who joined him on the stage, and you have an evening’s delight that would have shone brightly in any city on the planet.

The concert began with a Trumpet and Piano Sonata in E-flat Minor, in the traditional three movements. After an opening with a solemn solo piano, the trumpet – played brilliantly and magnificently by Simon Austin – enters and carries its own line. And then merging, as a great sonata does with the two instruments, the performers carry the listeners away with a fast, almost responsorial dance of that pair — which gives the opening of the second movement a chance to let the audience take great, deep breaths of the shining air, which is needed because soon the fast pace of the first movement weaves itself back in. Yet when the third movement begins, you realize you’ve not yet heard what Allegro Vivace really means, with both piano and trumpet in continual motion. But like all great pieces – and all great life – the slow, longing trumpet theme interrupts that race occasionally, resting the audience for the wild ride to the final notes!

The second portion of the first half of the concert was given to a song cycle for tenor and piano. Here Rindt’s deft touch with composition again shows its elegance, for the songs are musical settings of various short poems from the spare, stern, almost pessimistic and yet oft uplifting early 20th-century poet, Edwin Arlington Robinson.

Though well-known in his time – thrice winning the Pulitzer Prize – he is less heard (and appreciated) now. But Rindt’s music, which varied from lyrical to dancing to sad and then back to soaring, brought a separate life and vitality to each of the six poems. The vocals, from the resonant and expressive voice of David Hodgson, long a favorite on stages of many cities of the High Desert, brought power and tenderness, in just the right mix, delivering vital rumbles, elegant melody and scarce-heard whispers at all the right poetic moments.

The second half of the concert began with another song cycle, again from Robinson’s poetry, but this a longer, more open-verse story entitled “Aunt Imogen.” Along with vocals provided by Amber Petersen – whose operatic, captivatingly lovely mezzo-soprano voice is well-known and loved throughout the valley – the piano and voice tell the story of a person who comes to know how to love, and be loved, even when those emotional lines seem drawn at very strange and complex angles. As the poem progresses, so Rindt’s music and Petersen’s singing carry us down the path of the poet – enriching his imagery all along the way – from distance, through sorrow, to resignation and finally to realization and joy.

The finale of the concert was another Sonata, in G Minor for Piano and Viola, combining the talents of two Rindts, the composer at the piano and his sister Darcy, a professional viola player, currently performing with the national theatrical your of the Broadway show “Hamilton.”

It goes without saying, but I’m going to say it anyway: the power and professional magnificence of this piece and its execution defy words to adequately describe!

The sonata takes early the higher ground, reciting and reiterating a theme that ultimately allows the two instruments – sometimes in counterpoint, almost canonlike, and sometimes providing the warp and weft of a single musical cloth – to bring the audience to the edge of their seats with musical expectation. Then, after a quick draught of air, the second movement starts, spinning, chromatic, varied and whirling, dervish-like through both sounds and emotions.

And as if unwilling to then allow any rest, the third movement begins seamlessly as the second ends, re-introducing thematic material from before, but now in a major key: sweet, beguiling, beckoning, it brings the audience – if not whirling, at least dancing – back toward the joy and grandeur that only music can bring to life. And it should surprise no one to learn that the audience simply refused to stop clapping at the piece’s – and concert’s – end, basically forcing the composer-pianist to come back for an encore, a short, vibrant, piano solo with echoes of Bach, Mozart, Chopin, Debussy and Ives, and yet the freshness of a newly discovered wilderness meadow.

Rindt comes by his many artistic gifts naturally, being from a large and musical family. But he has well-honed them, first in Ridgecrest (where he grew up) and later at the University of Southern California, where he got both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in piano performance.

His prior performances through the Indian Wells Valley over the last decade or more were always appreciated – whether as piano accompaniment or solo artist – and we, his friends and neighbors, are now seeing the flowering of his talent as a composer. I both hope and expect that we are witnessing the beginning of a fabulous career.

Martin Luther once said, “Next to the word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world.” I’d like to proffer this and in fact expand on it: I believe, as I listened to this music, I actually heard some of the words of God.

After earning degrees from the University of California, San Diego, in medicine and music, Dr. Cosner returned to his hometown of Ridgecrest in 1986 to serve our community full time as a physician and part time as an amateur performer on the local stage.

Story First Published: 2017-11-17