Local composer creates something new

Local composer  creates something newBy BRIAN COSNER, News Review Staff Writer

There’s something uniquely joyous about finding surprises in an environment you feel intimately familiar with — discovering a new favorite dish at a restaurant you’ve frequented for years, driving through your small, tired town and finding yourself on a street that you’ve never seen before, or even reclaiming $20 that had been tucked into the pocket of an old coat.

I experienced this joy last week as I was swept away by the original compositions of homegrown classical composer and pianist Patrick Rindt. Joining Rindt were his sister, violist Darcy, baritone David Hodgson (another local talent) and Bay-area cellist Beth Vandervennet.

While this was not my first “Patrick Rindt & Friends” experience, it was perhaps the moment I realized that Rindt’s previous compositional successes were not mere moments of lightning in a bottle.

Classical music is perhaps the most enduring form of musical entertainment in the western world. The genre is so well tread by the likes of Johann Sebastian Bach, Chevalier de Saint-Georges, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven, Frederic Chopin, Igor Stravinski, George Gershwin, John Williams and Philip Glass, that one would fear Solomon was right when he said, “There is nothing new under the sun.”

But despite the vast musical ground covered by those before him, Rindt has managed to bring us something new in the wonderful tradition of classical music. The influences are apparent, with tones of Beethoven and Liszt as well as more modern voices like Bernstein and Williams bubbling to the surface of his compositions. But Rindt’s achievement surpasses what many attempt in that what he has hewn from influences his own unique voice.

Did I mention that he accomplishes all of this with only one hand? Due to a musculoskeletal injury, Rindt is limited to the use of his left hand when he plays. But it hardly seems like a “limitation,” given what he is able to produce.

Rindt welcomed back Darcy for “Sonata in G Minor for Viola and Left Hand Piano” and Hodgson for the “Llewellyn and the Tree” song cycle, both of which debuted at a “Patrick Rindt & Friends” concert in 2017.

Darcy’s deft handling of the haunting viola melody — intensely dramatic at times, like a lullaby at others — is a testament to her command of the craft. But I can’t help thinking that the siblings share a connection that would make such an in-sync performance impossible by any other musicians.

Hodgson’s rich, powerful baritone voice – that often treads into tenor territory – is perfectly suited to the emotional range demanded by the music and lyrics, taken from the poetry of Edwin Arlington Robinson.

And newcomer to the Rindt & Friends scene Vandervennet gave a singularly virtuousic performance of “Sonata in C Major for Cello and Left Hand Piano.” The piece relies heavily on a theme with variations, from frantic and playful to dark and ambient and everything in between.

Closing the concert was “Trio for Viola, Cello and Left Hand Piano” – a cyclone of atmospheric arpeggiations and overlapping melodies that featured all three instrumentalists.

I’d love to write about Rindt’s use of motifs and how he passes them back and forth between voices and crafts different contexts for recurring melodies that seem to grant them entirely different meaning. I’d love to describe his creative use of the sostenuto pedal, which allows selected chords to ring clear while he plunks out a low, ominous melody without the muddiness of a fully sustained sound. I’d love to comment on his use of minor modes within major keys and vice versa. But words are inadequate to fully describe to what Rindt and his performers create for their listeners. Let us hope for opportunities for a broader audience to experience it first-hand.

Master of Ceremonies Dr. Larry Cosner, Jr., said during the concert that “music is what binds us together and makes our shared experience worthwhile.” Rindt’s compositions, and these performers’ abilities to communicate them are nothing short of glorious, and the live performances are a must-see for any music lover.

Pictured: Patrick Rindt composing at his piano

Story First Published: 2019-08-23