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The Hazel Waters Kornegay Assembly Hall of the University of Mount Olive is a bijou auditorium re-purposed through generous giving from the old high school. Although it's as bright as a new penny, with fresh paint, refinished floors, and rich, dark green stage curtains, great care was taken that it should not look a bit different from the day it was built. It's a lovely room with lovely acoustics. There's a very noisy hydraulic elevator in an adjoining corridor, but the whooshing groans are not audible when even the softest music is being played.
The performers were the Lopez Tabor Duo. Alfonzo Lopez is a native Caracas and lives in Tallahassee, Florida. He is the concertmaster of the Venezuela Symphony Orchestra. He holds a B.A. and an M.A. in music from the University of Michigan. Michelle Tabor holds B.F.A, M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Tulane University in New Orleans, the University of Denver, and Florida State University, Tallahassee, respectively. Tabor offered a commendably brief verbal explanation of each piece.
The program opened with the Presto from Bach's Violin Sonata S. 1015. Both performers were precise and musical.
Next was Beethoven's Opus 30, No. 2, Violin Sonata in C minor. Lopez and Tabor were relaxed and at ease with each other, self-assured and well matched. The first movement, Allegro con brio, was characterized by the somber bass chords in the keyboard and the double stopping of the violin. This violin sonata is like a piano sonata and an unrelated violin etude, that when played together so excellently produce music greater than the sum of its parts. The entire piece, full of Beethoven's typical flamboyance, was met with the perfect amount of flamboyance by the musicians. The fourth movement, finale-allegro, furious, complex, and confusing, was rendered with crystal clarity, it's complexity made simple, and its confusion explained.
For a complete change of pace, the duo turned to music in the style of the nineteenth century. First came Lalo's serious torture of the violin, movements one and five from his Symphonie Espagnole, Op. 21, calling for the extreme range of the violin with keyboard part to match, ably handled by both Lopez and Tabor.
Albeniz's Sevilla was played in a style as sunny as its subject, with great precision and totally musicality.
De Falla's "Danse Espagnole" from his youthful opera La vida breve was presented in an arrangement by Fritz Kreisler. Lopez was totally relaxed and Tabor appeared to play effortlessly.
The program ended with a tribute to South America: music by the Brazilian Zequinha de Abreu ("Tico Tico No Fuba"), the Cuban Miguel Matamoros ("Lagrimas Negras"), and the Venezuelan Carlos Bonet ("Quitapesares"), all in arrangements by Lopez himself. All these pieces were fiery and distinctive, with the by-now familiar excellence of the duo. Lopez was dramatic in his playing, precise and clean. Tabor, while calmer at the keyboard, produced an equally exciting sound.
The duo plays again January 27 at the Music House in Greenville and January 29 at The History Place in Morehead City. See the sidebar for details.