I went to the opening of Concertante's season at the Rose Lehrman Arts Center in Harrisburg Saturday night.
1. The evening began with Beethoven's Opus 9 #1, a charming trio with Ittai, Ara and Zvi of the group. Tempos were spot on, from the seriousness of the first movement (a glimmer of later Beethoven) to the sparkle of the scherzo, and brilliance of the finale!
2. Next the women of Concertante, Rachel and Alexis, played Lutoslawski's Bucolics. Speaking beforehand, Rachel made a humorous and apt comparison with the new folk melodies with finding the right tattoo. Again, the right amount of tempi, dynamics and flair made this short work highly enjoyable.
3. John Novacek is well known as a pianist, often the recital partner of Leila Josefowitz (blogged about on their visit to Harrisburg here) - but you may not know he also composes rags! (Novacek & Josefowitz have recorded four of them on her Americana Album.) Concertante asked Novacek to write a few rags for them, and what rags they are! The first is sweet, sappy and that typical fun syncopated ragtime sound. The second is a slow drag that lets the lower end of Concertante show off - awesome solos from Alexis and Ara. The final rag is fast and frentic, definitely a more modern take of the genre and is virtuosic for every part.
4. The second half of the program was Dvorak's String Quintet opus 97. The work is well crafted Dvorak, at the heighth of his powers, and Concertante connected fully in this performance. Again, just the right tempos and panache had the audience on its feet.
5. The evening started with a pre-concert talk with yours truly, ended with a short talkback with the musicians, and a reception in the rose garden. It was a perfect fall night, and with new seats, a young vibrant audience, a well varied program played capably, I was pleased as punch (although I had cabernet!)
The sextet returns in November, January, March and May. They give this exact program Tuesday at Weill Recital Hall in NYC's Carnegie Hall. It was also recorded by WITF and will be broadcast later on WITF Presents, Monday nights @ 7 pm.
*Full disclosure, I am on the board of Concertante and work for WITF-FM.