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A few days ago at this Cary Cross Currents Chamber Music Festival, a couple of wind players horned in on the Brussels Chamber Orchestra. And to a pleasing effect, one might add, in works for two horns and strings. But tonight in the Cary Arts Center, it was exclusively strings all the way down as the players were joined by the members of the Lipkind Quartet, and even high-school students from the wonderful “Side-by-Side” feature of the Festival.
Speaking of Side-by Side, those string students gave a grand account of themselves in a pre-concert presentation for those lucky enough to show up early. Leading off those offerings were five players of mixed ages, and the first movement from Mozart’s String Quintet in C. Next came a younger set of youngsters with the Lento movement of the String Quartet No. 12 of Dvořák. Finally it was time for four “veteran” youngsters and the fiery third movement of that very same Dvořák quartet. What could be more uplifting than to note the brilliant efforts of these incipient music stars? And what would be more appropriate than to offer a huge salute to the Festival officials and especially to the “pros” who so effectively mentored them?
Violinist Artiom Shishkov, violist Nora Romanoff-Schwarzberg and cellist Gavriel Lipkind joined the orchestra for the captivating Adagio for String Trio and Orchestra by the nineteenth-century Belgian composer, Guillaume Lekeu. On the basis of this performance this composer, though dying quite young, is unjustly little-known. Violinist Yusuke Hayashi joined these same participants in Elgar’s Introduction and Allegro for String Quartet and Orchestra. This piece offered the energy one associates with the composer, eliciting quite a measure of athleticism from the players.
If you consulted a search engine on the subject of luxuriant string sound, you might well be directed to a video of, say, the Philadelphia Orchestra string section playing Vaughn Williams’ Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis. Six of the aforementioned students joined in to create forces twenty-two strong. The resulting hall-filling lushness should have satisfied even the most jaded audiophile.
The same search engine might have been called upon for examples of pieces somewhat opposite to the Fantasia, strains not likely to be hummed or whistled by the departing audience members. That search could have yielded Schönberg’s Verklärte Nacht (Transfigured Night). All quartet and orchestra members collaborated in a dazzling and accessible reading of this modern five-stanza masterpiece.
Here on a stormy evening was arguably the apex of this imposing two-week Festival.