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Clockwise from left: Curt Thompson, Brant Taylor, Joan DerHovsepian, Stephen Rose, Jun Iwasaki, John Novacek
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Review: Mimir Chamber Music Festival 2019 | Mimir Chamber Music Festival | PepsiCo Recital Hall


Mimir 2019: Concert 1

The Mimir Chamber Music Festival kicked off Wednesday with stellar musicianship.



published Saturday, July 6, 2019

Photo: Courtesy the artists
Clockwise from left: Curt Thompson, Brant Taylor, Joan DerHovsepian, Stephen Rose, Jun Iwasaki, John Novacek

 

Fort Worth — The gentle canonic counterpoint in the opening measures of Ravel’s Violin Sonata in G provided a seductive introduction to the 2019 Mimir Chamber Music Festival Wednesday night at PepsiCo Recital Hall on the Texas Christian University campus; the musical seduction continued throughout a concert that packed in an impressive range of styles and moods, all beautifully executed.

The main concert series features performances by members of the faculty of the Mimir Festival, which annually provides coaching and performance opportunities to a select number of young artists, in Fort Worth and (later in the summer) in Melbourne, Australia. Violinist Jun Iwasaki, the concertmaster of the Nashville Symphony, joined pianist John Novacek for the Ravel Sonata. Novacek matched Iwasaki’s clear, solid tone, with a hypnotically sweet quality, richly pedaled for a misty effect in the opening phrase.

After the shimmering delicacy of the opening movement, Novacek and Iwasaki moved into the slippery jazziness of the second movement, titled “Blues” and clearly influenced by American popular music of the 1920s. Here, the violinist must break out of traditional classical technique and glide through the gray areas of pitch, a trick Iwasaki managed with steamy grace. The final movement returns to a relentless Paganini-style virtuosity, allowing Iwasaki to show off a finely honed technique.

Violinist (and festival director) Curt Thompson joined violinist Stephen Rose (principal second violin of the Cleveland Orchestra), cellist Brant Taylor (a member of the Chicago Symphony) and violist Joan DerHovsepian (associate principal of the Houston Symphony) for the second item on the program, American composer Gabriela Frank’s Leyenda: An Andean Walkabout, composed in 2001. Here, in this intriguing six-movement re-invention of the string quartet, Frank expands beyond the three-part intercultural breadth Ravel displayed in the Violin Sonata for an even richer exploration of the mixture of indigenous and colonialist cultures of northwestern South America. Frank is herself of mixed Peruvian, Chinese, and Jewish descent; in this, as in many other works, she advocates, through music, the glories of intermingled cultures.

In describing the various elements of life in the Andes, Frank evokes, among other elements, the pre-Columbian Inca runners, the professional mourners of traditional Peru, and then swaggering romanceros; the assembled quartet maneuvered through the new world of timbres Frank here invents, from the searing viola melody of the second movement (“Tarqueda”) to the languid duet for viola and cello of the “Canto de Velorio” (“Song of the mourning”) to the melodically soaring finale.

After intermission, the program returned to the heart of the chamber music repertoire, with Dvořák’s Quintet in A, Opus 81. Already a risky choice as possibly the most well-known of all chamber works, it’s doubly dangerous in Fort Worth, where audiences hear it multiple times every four years during the Cliburn Competition. Cellist Clancy Newman, a past Naumburg winner, joined violinists Iwasaki and Rose, violist DerHovsepian, and pianist Novacek to give an unabashedly intense reading, building to a fever pitch while still in the opening exposition—and setting up a hypnotic moment for Newman’s breathtaking delivery of the cello solo at the beginning of the development section. Pianist Novacek once again showed off a remarkable command of piano tone in the Dumka second movement as he introduced the longing principal melody, which elides into a rollicking middle section before the subtly whispered closing bars. The Scherzo and, in the end, the rollicking Finale, successfully suggested, as Dvořák’s music does at its best, a universality derived from folk idioms. In short, the gamble of presenting this well-known work paid off in a grandly memorable performance.

 

 

The Mimir Chamber Music Festival continues with: 

 

Mimir Emerging Artists Concert One

7:30 p.m. Saturday, July 6

PepsiCo Recital Hall, TCU

 

CONCERT 3

2 p.m. Sunday, July 7

Renzo Piano Pavilion At The Kimbell Art Museum

Sonata in F minor, Op. 120, No. 1 - Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)
Joan DerHovsepian, viola
John Novacek, piano

String Quartet in A minor - Fritz Kreisler (1875-1962)
Jun Iwasaki and Stephen Rose, violins
Joan DerHovsepian, viola
Brant Taylor, cello

String Quartet in C minor, Op. 18, No. 4 - Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)
Stephen Rose and Curt Thompson, violins
Joan DerHovsepian, viola
Brant Taylor, cello

 

CONCERT 4

7:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 9

PepsiCo Recital Hall, TCU

String Quartet No. 1 “From the Salvation Army” - Charles Ives (1874-1954)
Curt Thompson and Jesse Mills, violins
Wenhong Luo, viola
Raman Ramakrishnan, cello

Trio in F-sharp minor - Arno Babajanian (1921-1983)
Horszowski Trio
Jesse Mills, violin
Raman Ramakrishnan, cello
Rieko Aizawa, piano

Trio in D minor, Op. 63 - Robert Schumann (1810-1856)
Horszowski Trio
Jesse Mills, violin
Raman Ramakrishnan, cello
Rieko Aizawa, piano

 

Mimir Emerging Artists Concert Two

7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 11

PepsiCo Recital Hall, TCU

 

CONCERT 5

7:30 p.m. Friday, July 12

PepsiCo Recital Hall, TCU

Piano Trio in G Major, Hob. XV, No. 25 “Gypsy” - Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809)
Horszowski Trio
Jesse Mills, violin
Raman Ramakrishnan, cello
Rieko Aizawa, piano

Piano Trio in E minor, Op. 67 - Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975)
Horszowski Trio
Jesse Mills, violin
Raman Ramakrishnan, cello
Rieko Aizawa, piano

Quintet in F minor, Op. 34 - Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)
Jesse Mills and Curt Thompson, violins
Wenhong Luo, viola
Raman Ramakrishnan, cello
Rieko Aizawa, piano

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Mimir 2019: Concert 1
The Mimir Chamber Music Festival kicked off Wednesday with stellar musicianship.
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