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

Review: Mimir Chamber Music Festival 2019 | Mimir Chamber Music Festival | PepsiCo Recital Hall


Mimir 2019: Concert 3

The Mimir Chamber Music Festival continued with a fantastic concert on Sunday at the Kimbell Art Museum.



published Tuesday, July 9, 2019

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

 

Fort Worth — A late masterpiece by Brahms, some solid early-period Beethoven, and a largely forgotten period piece from the 1920s made for a compelling, widely varied (and, interestingly, all-Viennese) concert on the Mimir Chamber Music Festival’s concert series Sunday afternoon at the Kimbell Art Museum.

The Mimir Chamber Music Festival annually provides intense coaching and interaction with a faculty of outstanding musicians every summer for a highly select group of young musicians on the campus of Texas Christian University, with a second session later in the summer in Melbourne, Australia; the Festival’s concert series features faculty members in a series of concerts on the campus, but with one annual visit down the street to the Kimbell Art Museum.

Brahms’ Sonata in F minor (Opus 120, No. 1), the opening item on this year’s Kimbell concert, immediately showed off the unique and outstanding skills of pianist John Novacek and violist Joan Der Hovsepian, the associate principal violist of the Houston Symphony. While both artists own the complete range of musical expression, both possess some distinctive qualities worth mentioning. Pianist Novacek in particular has a striking command of pedal technique as a strategy for producing always effective, often arrestingly beautiful tone quality, while violist DerHovsepian presents an exemplary assertive timbre with an appealing dark edge.

Brahms originally composed this work for clarinet and piano, but also created an adjusted version for viola; as in much of Brahms’ output from his final years, this Sonata combines an autumnal quality—unhampered by sentimentality or nostalgia—with the composer’s unequaled command of musical structure and high romantic harmonic idiom. Within an unfailingly fine performance, DerHovsepian and Novacek presented particularly breathtaking moments in the pianissismo passages at the close of the first movement and within the second movement.

DerHovsepian returned to the stage for the second item on the agenda, joining violinist Jun Iwasaki (concertmaster of the Nashville Symphony), violinist Stephen Rose (principal second violinist of the Cleveland Orchestra), and cellist Brent Taylor (a member of the Chicago Symphony) for the String Quartet from 1921 by early twentieth-century violin virtuoso Fritz Kreisler. Kreisler is often cited for his whimsical reverse plagiarism, in which he passed off some of his own original compositions as work by 18th-century composers; he always proudly owned up to the authorship of his string quartet, however, which, though seldom performed, is a fine example of intense late romanticism and chromaticism, similar to the music of Korngold and Delius.

After a dark, rising cello motif opens the Quartet, the work calls for a generally warm, transparent texture, which this ensemble achieved impressively, along with the rhapsodic, and restless aura inherent in the music. Although no one has ever ranked this work as a masterpiece, it was certainly a welcome and intriguing contrast on the program; the gossamer Scherzo stood out as an appealing segment that could stand on its own as a separate concert piece.

Beethoven’s String Quartet in C minor (Opus 18, No. 4) provided an immediate change of mood and direction, with violinist (and festival founding director) Curt Thompson joining violinist Rose, violist DerHovsepian, and cellist Clancy Newman (first prize winner of the 2001 Naumburg Competition).  Here, Beethoven glances fondly back to Haydn in a lively fugal Scherzo for the second movement but bounds forward toward his middle and even late periods with the momentous upward-striving motifs and syncopated accents of the subsequent Menuetto. The ensemble beautifully realized the relentless surging Beethovenian energy of the work, closing impressively in the intricate passage work of the Prestissimo finale. As always in the Mimir Festival series, the entire recital combined imaginative, intelligent programing with superb performances.

 

The Mimir Chamber Music Festival continues with: 

 

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 3
The Mimir Chamber Music Festival continued with a fantastic concert on Sunday at the Kimbell Art Museum.
by Wayne Lee Gay

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