The Curtis Institute of Music offered Recitals #25 and #26 last night at 5:15 and 8:00 pm respectively. The early concert featured works of Vivaldi, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, and Brahms; the later one works of Ravel, Brahms (again), and Robert Schumann. It was all wonderful music and wonderfully played, with a few things worthy of note other than its overwhelming wonderfulness.
Probably the most interesting piece on the program was the Sonata for Violin and Cello by Maurice Ravel written after the War. It was played with power, finesse, wit and humor by Rebecca Anderson, violinist, and Nathan Vickery, cellist. It was very funny, and they clearly enjoyed themselves and used coordinated red and black outfits to add to the sense of the music. These recitals are often as much of a fashion show as they are concerts.
Two very young amazing fiddlers were on the program. Stephen Waarts, whom we heard play Bach at the Church of the Holy Trinity brown bag concert kicked in with an amazing performance of Brahms's Op. 77 violin concerto. He must be all of 15 and looks it but plays a lot older. The other amazing young fiddler is Aaron Timothy Chooi, whose older brother also is at Curtis and who played flawlessly Felix Mendelssohn's Concerto in E, flawlessly with the exception of being for me a but overly metronomic in the second movement.
The final remarkable part of the program was Robert Schumann's Op. 44 Quintet for Piano, 2 violins, viola, and cello. Jonathan Biss, new piano faculty member, sparkled. I've heard this piece half a dozen times over the last few years and played it a dozen times, but not like these people. It's a viola players' dream with some luscious solos for the viola and some great duet work with the other members, particularly with the cellist in the first movement. Biss never played too loudly even though he played the whole time with the piano all the way open. Nor was he ever invisible nor not right with them all the time. These people brought more of the work's lovely details than I can remember having heard before but was never fussy. Anastasia Agapova was fine on the first violin part, Eric Han on the cello. If anything lacked, I needed to hear more from the violist who for the most part hid her light.
Also, on the early concert, Christine Lee played Beethoven." Variations on "Bei Maennern, welche Fuehlen" extremely beautifully.
There are two more concerts tonight, and one more tomorrow night and they're off until mid-January, too bad for us.
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