The Herald, Sharon, PA Published Thursday, April 11, 2002


Pistolesis present 'very odd' concert
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Married musicians pair violin, cello for show

By Joe Pinchot
Herald Staff Writer

Donald Pistolesi admitted the program he and his wife, Sara, will perform in a concert Friday in Greenville is "very odd."

But it can't be helped, said Pistolesi, a cellist, married to a violinist.

"The repertoire for violin and cello is very spare," said the former Greenville resident.

Plenty of composers wrote violin-cello pieces, but not with the serious intent at which they crafted string quartets and concertos.

"It's something for them to do when the viola doesn't show up," said the son of retired music teacher Mike Pistolesi of Greenville and his piano teacher wife, the late Elizabeth "Libby" Pistolesi.

"Duos are usually for informal get-togethers. They're not for concerts."

The Pistolesis, who live in Montreal, will perform only two pieces originally written for the violin and cello, four of Reinhold Gliere's Eight Pieces for Violin and Cello Op. 39, and the Grand Concert Duo on Two English National Airs by Adrien Francois Servais and Hubert Leonard.

Otherwise, the couple will perform works transcribed for their music configuration: Johan Halvorsen's Passacaglia after Handel and Mozart's Theme and Variations K. 424, both of which were written for violin and viola; Bela Bartok's Hungarian Folk Melodies, written for two violins; Henry Eccles' Sonata in G minor, a violin sonata; and Antonin Dvorak's Sonatina in G Major Op. 100, which he wrote for his 15-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son to play on viola and piano.

The Pistolesis will each take a turn at the piano accompanying the other, he on the Dvorak and she on the Eccles.

The couple, both 54 and married in 1969, has cobbled together duo programs since they met at the Eastman School of Music, Rochester, N.Y.

"Some of them we've been playing for 35 years, and some we whipped up just for this (concert)," he said.

Although the couple play orchestral instruments, they have very different tolerances to the orchestral atmosphere.

Ms. Pistolesi, who grew up in Elgin, Ill., and has played with the Rochester Philharmonic and Milwaukee Symphony, has been a member of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra since 1975.

The job requires 180 performances a year, and the musicians often play different programs on successive nights.

The gig is demanding physically, and orchestra members have suffered from sore backs, tendonitis and carpal tunnel syndrome, said Pistolesi, a 1965 graduate of Greenville High School.

Pistolesi, who has played with the Greenville, Youngstown and Milwaukee symphonies, played two seasons with the Montreal Symphony in the '80s as free-lance musician, and opted not to try

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