Guest Artists deliver at Summer Evenings of Music

By - Jun 14th, 2010 08:57 pm
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The Fine Arts Quartet wasted no time in introducing a pair of top-shelf guest artists at a Summer Evenings of Music program Sunday.

A last-minute change switched Robert Schumann’s Fantasiestücke to the top of the concert. Pianist Anna Polonsky and clarinetist Patrick Messina combined in an enchanting performance. They playing off each other in a way that reminded me of figure skaters dancing in tandem on a frozen river. An elfin second movement, highlighted by Messina’s ghostly scales, gave way to Polonsky’s bold strokes in a finale dominated by the piano.

Left to Right: Anna Polonsky, Efim Boico, Nicolo Eugelmi, Wolfgang Laufer. TCD photo by Andy Tisdel.

Polansky guest-starred in all three pieces, and seemed to mesh well with the Quartet on the following Mozart’s Piano Quartet No. 1. Violinist Efim Boico, violist Nicolo Eugelmi and cellist Wolfgang Laufer, who doubled as the announcer, delivered a nicely refined version of the piece. They took their time building the drama. They brought out the finesse and delicacy in the first movement and created a sense of anticipation. They satisfied that anticipation in the climax of the second movement. But they hadn’t reached the mountaintop. They descended but a little way into the third movement before launching to another peak. The rousing conclusion prompted the audience to call the performers back three times. Polonsky skipped a little as she left the stage.

The grand finale, Dohnanyi’s Sextet in C, added violinist Ralph Evans, of the FAQ, and guest horn player Gregory Flint to the mix. Dohnanyi often assigned leading roles to horn and viola, and Flint and Eugelmi more than held their own in a first movement that sounds like a squabble among the instruments.

The Allegro appassionato swung from gloom to hope to agitation before Flint rang out above it all, as if to calm the strings and the wayward piano. The calm gave way, in the second movement, to an eerie foreboding conjured largely by Messina’s spectral piping. In the final two movements, Polonsky’s piano broke through and the mood turned jaunty, cheerful, cock-of-the-walk. The playing suggested laughter at the previous gloom. The triumphant finale pulled the audience to its feet and inspired several curtain calls.

This program was the second of four in the quartet’s Summer Evenings of Music, given Sundays at the Zelazo Center of UWM, where the quartet is in residence. For details and ticket information for upcoming concertx, click here.

Categories: Classical

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