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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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