Husband-and-wife team Noreen Silver and Dr. Phillip Silver performed as the Silver Duo in Minsky Recital Hall, Feb. 2. Both are faculty members in the Music Department at the University of Maine.
The first piece the couple played was “Sonata for Cello and Piano,” composed in 1915 by Claude Debussy. Debussy wrote it towards the end of his life for his wife, Emma. Made up of three movements, the piece began slowly, but varied in speed and vivacity throughout. Phillip performed on piano and Noreen on the cello.
Next, the Silver Duo performed “Duo for Cello and Piano Op. 7,” composed in 1858 by Franz Berwald, a Swedish Romantic composer. According to Phillip, composers tend to be popular in their lifetime and lose popularity as generations pass. However, Berwald was the opposite: His work wasn’t appreciated until after his death in 1868. He described the piece as “slightly kooky, but unique,” and hoped the audience would enjoy it.
After an intermission, the Duo returned with Lydia Forbes, a violinist and applied faculty member at Bowdoin College. The couple met Forbes when she was 19 years old at a music festival in Germany. Forbes has performed with a variety of ensembles throughout Europe, Australia, New Zealand and the U.S.
The final piece they performed was “Trio No. 1 in B-flat Major Op. 21,” composed by Czech composer Antonin Dvorak. It is made up of four movements — some slower, some lively.
After a standing ovation from the audience, the trio returned for an encore to play concert tango “Oblivion,” composed and recorded in 1982 by Astor Piazzolla, an Argentinian tango composer.
“I thought it was great. The music was dynamic and interesting,” said Nora Cronin, a fourth-year music education and vocal performance student who was in attendance. “They played really well technically, but also with feeling and musicality. Plus, the cello is such a beautiful instrument. It makes me want to cry listening to it.”
Phillip studied at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, where he earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music. He went on to earn his Doctorate of Musical Arts from the University of Washington where he researched the music of Ignaz Moscheles. He has performed as a member of the Van Leer Chamber Players in Jerusalem and the Rachmaninov Trio in the U.K.
Noreen studied at the Royal College of Music in London, with Pierre Fournier in Geneva, and at the New England Conservatory of Music, where she met Phillip. She also broadcasted for the BBC on a frequent basis, as well as other national radio stations.
The duo has since performed in the U.K., Israel, Sweden, Czech Republic, Germany, France and Belgium.