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Nostalgic Kingdoms


Picnic Concert

A Music Academy Young Artists performance. At Abravanel Hall, Thursday, July 20.

Reviewed by Gerald Carpenter

This Picnic Concert was a typical mix of stuff I had never heard and stuff I can’t live without. They began with Heitor Villa-Lobos’s Quintette en forme de choros, rather dazzlingly rendered by Melanie Lançon (flute), Jamie Roberts (oboe), Todd Cope (clarinet), Matthew Lano (bassoon), and Seung-Bum Lim (horn).

Then followed the Sonata for Trombone and Piano “Vox Gabrieli,” by the Croatian composer Stjepan Šulek, performed with superb mellowness by Alexander Reicher (trombone) and Margaret McDonald (piano). Šulek was known as a backward-looking composer, who sought inspiration from as distant an epoch as the early baroque, as the “Gabrieli” reference attests. But it sounded like the score of a film noir classic of the 1940s.

Violinist Lana Lee, cellist Charlene Prescott, and pianist Jonathan Coombs broke hearts with a throbbing, romantic reading of the first movement of Brahms’s Piano Trio in B Major, Opus 8. In this movement, Brahms deftly keeps the violin and cello apart much of the time, making it sound as if the trio were actually dueling sonatas.

After the break came Alfredo Casella’s Barcarola and Scherzo for Flute and Piano, played with amazing skill and sympathy by Colleen Matheu (flute) and associate faculty member Natasha Kislenko (piano). Flowing and sinuous melodies were woven together with that Italian gift for emotional continuity. Then, the Hungarian Rhapsody, Opus 68, by Czech-Austrian cellist David Popper, exploded into the Abravanel air, powered by the passionate and breathtaking virtuosity of cellist Fanny Németh and pianist Sunglee Victoria Choi.

Poulenc’s Trio for Piano, Oboe, and Bassoon started out with several uncharacteristically dramatic gestures, which came to very little, before racing off into a pulse quickening chase reminiscent of the Aubade. Sora Oh (piano), Jamie Roberts (oboe), and Matthew McDonald (bassoon) caught every nuance. Finally, Ravel’s Piano Trio in A Minor — not so much ideal summer music as music for an ideal summer — was brilliantly conjured up by violinist Linda Baerlund, cellist Matthew Zalkind, and pianist Viktor Valkov.

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