Dallas — How many of us, in our lives, find the vocation for which we are ideally suited? Those who both find that thing and are capable of greatness in it become the Shakespeares, the Mozarts, the Bill Gates and Steve Jobs of the world—those for whom there is near-perfect correlation between their genius and what the world needs in their particular moment. But how many of the rest of us were handed paintbrushes when computers would have been our strength, or encouraged to read Newton and Darwin when Proust and Dostoyevsky was our true calling?
Some select few are both lucky and smart enough to find that perfect fit, as was evidenced Friday night at the last Blue Candlelight Music Series performance of the season. The capacity audience of about 50 lucky listeners got to hear the happy results of a few people who have evidently experienced that near-perfect correlation. Dallas Symphony Orchestra principal flute Demarre McGill, principal horn David Cooper, and concertmaster Alex Kerr collaborated with pianist and Blue Candlelight music director Baya Kakouberi to produce an evening of infinite possibility. As has been the case for the past few seasons, this concert took place at the elegant Dallas home of Richard and Enika Schulze.
The first half featured each of the three DSO players in duos with Kakouberi. Most of these were lesser known, with the exception of the Poulenc flute sonata. Demarre McGill demonstrated impeccable phrasing as well as an astonishing range of tonal colors on his gold flute. These colors include a glittering, bright sound, when needed, that belies the notion of a gold flute producing only warmer, more mellow tones.
McGill also collaborated with Kakouberi on C.P.E. Bach’s distinctly Baroque-sounding Sonata for Flute and Piano. Program Annotator Laurie Shulman informed the audience that this piece was long attributed to father J.S. Bach, even being assigned a BWV number. Little wonder, because the piece sounds far more like the father’s music than the early classical sounds we associate with the son. Both Kakouberi and McGill attempted to preserve the Baroque style; however, it was a bit disconcerting to hear what clearly was a harpsichord part played on the Schulze’s lovely Steinway. McGill and Kakouberi’s final collaboration was the virtuosic “Rigoletto Fantasie” by flutist William Popp. If you’re unfamiliar with this piece, imagine, if you will, the much better known “Carmen Fantasy” by Sarasate. Then visualize a flutist instead of a violinist, and tunes from Rigoletto rather than Carmen. Now you’ve pretty much got it. McGill demonstrated the astonishing virtuosity of his technique in this piece, and received a well-earned and vigorous ovation from his audience.
Hornist David Cooper demonstrated the opulent tone that Dallas Symphony patrons have so come to appreciate in Saint-Saëns’s Romance for Horn and Piano, Op. 36. Alex Kerr followed with a Romance, as well, by Pauline Viardot. This lovely and lyrical piece was the final and most welcome chapter in Blue Candlelight’s season theme of works by women composers.
The second half of the program featured the sublime Brahms Trio for Horn, Violin, and Piano in E flat Major, Op. 40. David Cooper’s performance, especially, was often breathtaking. He shaped phrases lovingly and skillfully, capturing the essence of the music. Kakouberi and Kerr were able collaborators—while they sometimes sounded under-rehearsed (not surprising, given both musicians’ participation in the concurrent Soluna Festival as well as this Blue Candlelight performance), they nonetheless captured the spirit of the music.
As always, this was a performance well worth attending—a deluxe experience in every way.