Saturday, June 22, 2013

Another Festival Visit...More Excellent Music!

Guest blogger Maxine Gaiber is Executive Director of the Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts and founding board director of the Delaware Arts Art Alliance. Her high school art teacher wrote in her yearbook, "be gentle as a critic," and she is finally following his advice!

The Delaware Chamber Music Festival Quartet.
Each time I attend the Delaware Chamber Music Festival, I am overwhelmed both by the quality of the performances and the enthusiasm of the audience.  And each time I gaze over the variegated sea of shades of gray hair around me, I worry about the future of classical music in the U.S.  Maybe each classical musical group should have a mandatory “bring your grandchild for free” day, so that a new generation can get “turned on” to this rewarding musical genre!
The Friday, June 21 Virtuosos concert was no exception.  I must admit that I lingered over my lo mein too long at the Chinese Festival and missed the Rachmaninoff piano trio, but the rest of the program more than made up for it.
Clancy Newman was brave to take on the well-known Brahms Sonata for Cello and Piano in E minor, Op.38, but seemed up to the task.  He gave a lyrical performance filled with stunning musical contrasts and emotional energy.  He plays the cello high up against his body almost like a bass and — surrounding the cello with his arms and head — becomes almost one with his instrument.
The two Paganini pieces which followed, while well performed by Barbara Govatos and Christiaan Taggart, seemed slight and restrained by contrast, as though the musicians were warming up for the jazzy, tango-based Piazolla work which was next on the program.  This first movement of the History of the Tango gave Govatos and Taggart more opportunity to show the range and versatility of their instruments.
Smetana’s Piano Trio in G Minor, Op.15 was a fitting finale to this virtuoso evening. Newman told the sad story of the composer dedicating the work to his daughter, who died at age 7, but it wasn’t really necessary.  The passionate work is filled with sadness, anger, tenderness, and joy and needs no back story to amplify its power. It is a beautiful ensemble piece that enables all of the instruments to perform as one, as well as shine on their own. Govatos’ firm control of her instrument and her head of unmoving tight curls were in sharp contrast to Newman’s dramatic poses and flying locks of hair, but, visual styles aside, they make beautiful music together and were ably complemented by Marcantonio Barone on the piano.
By the end of the evening, I was shaken and stirred and slightly tipsy from the brilliant concoctions of music that wafted from the stage of the Concert Hall of The Music School of Delaware. Bravo and salud!

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