Offspring on strings

Duo Parnas headlines Hudson Valley Philharmonic season opener at Bardavon this Saturday

by Frances Marion Platt
October 13, 2011 12:00 PM | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
cellist Cicely and violinist Madalyn as Duo Parnas
cellist Cicely and violinist Madalyn as Duo Parnas
Quick: Name the Top Ten classical cellists of the past century. The first five or so aren’t too hard: Pablo Casals, Mstislav Rostropovich, Yo-Yo Ma, Jacqueline du Pre, Lynn Harrell…but by the time you get to counting on the fingers of your second hand, you’re probably starting to falter. Alas, the cello just doesn’t command the international spotlight the way the piano does, or the violin.

But the great Leslie Parnas has to be in there somewhere, doesn’t he? He was a wunderkind, debuting solo at age 14, already principal cellist of the St. Louis Symphony by 1955. He studied with Casals and Gregor Piatigorsky, performed with every major orchestra imaginable and at the White House under two presidents. At last report he’s still teaching at Boston University.

Happily, he also sired a musical dynasty: His two granddaughters, cellist Cicely and violinist Madalyn, perform all over the place with the great pianist Peter Serkin as the Parnas/Serkin Trio as well as by themselves under the moniker of Duo Parnas. Together, they have won First Prize at the International Chamber Music Competition at Carnegie Hall. They have three CDs out so far: Parnas Double, which features music by Handel-Halvorsen, Kodaly, Ravel, Tcherepnin and Thomas; Gare du Nord, which concentrates on music inspired by Parisian culture, with works by Martinu, Milhaud, Gliere, Fennelly and Honegger; and a live recording of the duo’s Tannery Pond Concert at the Darrow School in New Lebanon in August 2009 with pianist Christian Steiner.

Mid-Hudson residents will get a rare chance to hear these rising young stars of the classical world this Saturday, October 15 at the Bardavon in Poughkeepsie, as the Hudson Valley Philharmonic (HVP) kicks off its 52nd season. Titled “Viva Vivaldi!” the concert will feature Duo Parnas performing Vivaldi’s Double Concerto RV 547 in B-flat major and Saint-Saëns’ La Muse et el Poete, op 132 with the HVP under the baton of music director Randall Craig Fleischer. Also on the program are the Overture to Mozart’s Der Schauspieldirektor K. 486 (The Impresario); Schubert’s Symphony no.8, D. 759, B-minor (Unfinished) and Liszt’s Mephisto Waltz, no. 1 (Der Tanz in der Dorfschenke).

The concert begins at 8 p.m., but ticketholders are invited to a pre-concert talk with Maestro Fleischer, Duo Parnas and members of the orchestra at 7 p.m. Tickets are available at various prices ranging from $26 to $48, with student rush seats available one hour prior to the concert for $20. Tickets are available at the Bardavon box office at 35 Market Street in Poughkeepsie, (845) 473-2072, or through TicketMaster at (800) 745-3000 or

The Bardavon is handicapped-accessible and has secure and convenient parking. For further information about the Bardavon or the Hudson Valley Philharmonic, log onto

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