Mimir Chamber Music Festival on Friday, June 30 at Texas Christian University
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Review: Mimir Chamber Music Festival 2017 Concert 2 | Mimir Chamber Music Festival | PepsiCo Recital Hall

Mimir Concert 2

Our take on the second concert of the 2017 edition of the Mimir Chamber Music Festival in Fort Worth.

published Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Photo: Jane Cohen
Mimir Chamber Music Festival on Friday, June 30 at Texas Christian University

Fort Worth — The Dallas Opera is dark until fall, and the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition is over. The Dallas Symphony is away performing at the Bravo! Vail Music Festival, while the Fort Worth Symphony is wrapping up its Concerts in the Garden, but won’t be back in Bass Hall until August.

What is a concertgoer to do?

Luckily, there are a few reprieves, one of which is the Mimir Chamber Music Festival. Held each summer at TCU, the festival assembles nearly a dozen top musicians, mostly orchestral players, to perform a series of five concerts. The second of these, held Friday evening, featured a delicious program with mostly excellent performances.

First up was Hugo Wolf’s one-movement Italian Serenade, composed in 1887 when the Slovenian composer was in his late 20s. Scored for string quartet, the piece is in a late Romantic style, but with its lightness and wit, is distinctly different from the late Romanticism of Mahler or Bruckner.

Violinists Stephen Rose and Jesse Mills, along with violist Joan DerHovsepian and cellist Brant Taylor, constituted the quartet. Apart from some pitch problems in the violins, this was a fine performance of a too-seldom-performed work. DerHovsepian and Taylor created a rich bottom half for the sound, while Mills and Rose floated charmingly over the top.

Rounding out the first half of the program was Astor Piazzolla’s increasingly ubiquitous Cuatro Estaciones Porteñas, or “The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires.” Originally scored for Piazzolla’s quintet of violin (or viola), piano, electric guitar, bass, and bandoneón, Friday’s performance was an arrangement for violin (Curt Thompson), cello (Brant Taylor), and piano (Rieko Aizawa) by José Bragato. Bragato, a cellist, has made several arrangements of Piazzolla’s work for ensembles that include cello. Including cello in the mix works just fine. However, this particular arrangement—or perhaps the performance—made Piazzolla’s energetic, propulsive, tango-inspired piece seem sanitized. There were certainly some compelling moments—“Spring,” which in this arrangement begins as a showpiece for violin, later highlights cello, and Taylor’s truly lovely playing. He is the only cellist performing on this series of five programs, which is a formidable feat—he is playing an astonishing quantity of music over the festival’s eleven days—but at least as of Friday, he seemed well up to the task.

The final piece on the program was Schubert’s String Quartet No. 15 in G Major, D. 887. The personnel were the same as for the Wolf, but Rose and Mills changed places, with Mills playing the first violin part and Rose the second part. The opening chords in the first movement were thrilling, locked in and resonant. After those first chords, though, as in the Wolf, pitch could have been tighter in the violins, but the mood was effectively intense. DerHovsepian has a lovely, rich sound, but as with many violists, producing sufficient volume is an issue. As a result, even when her part is foreground, she tended to be overbalanced by her companions. On the whole, this was a very good performance by musicians who don’t play together year-round: nuanced, musically thoughtful, and complex, but with a few technical issues.




Mimir continues with the following concerts:



7:30 p.m. Wednesday July 5

PepsiCo Recital Hall, TCU


Mimir Emerging Artists Concert 2

7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 6

PepsiCo Recital Hall, TCU



7:30 p.m. Friday, July 7

PepsiCo Recital Hall, TCU Thanks For Reading

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Mimir Concert 2
Our take on the second concert of the 2017 edition of the Mimir Chamber Music Festival in Fort Worth.
by J. Robin Coffelt

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