High strings, not high-strung

Pasatiempo - - Pasa Tempos -

Five months from now, Mu­sic From An­gel Fire will be in the midst of its three-week sea­son, its per­form­ers mak­ing the rounds of Taos, Ra­ton, Las Ve­gas, and Ea­gle Nest in ad­di­tion to ap­pear­ing at home at the An­gel Fire Com­mu­nity Cen­ter. On Sun­day af­ter­noon, April 3, in a ball­room at Bishop’s Lodge Ranch Re­sort & Spa, three of the fes­ti­val’s mu­si­cians dropped in for an in­terim visit to Santa Fe, of­fer­ing cham­ber works for two vi­o­lins and vi­ola in all pos­si­ble com­bi­na­tions.

Vi­o­lin­ist Ida Kavafian and vi­o­list Steven Te­nen­bom are well known in mu­si­cal cir­cles. She is the artis­tic di­rec­tor of Mu­sic From An­gel Fire and, as a vi­o­lin­ist, an artist mem­ber of the Cham­ber Mu­sic So­ci­ety of Lin­coln Cen­ter; he is the vi­o­list of the Orion String Quar­tet; and they are both mem­bers of the Opus One piano quar­tet and fac­ulty mem­bers at the Cur­tis In­sti­tute and Bard Col­lege. They are also mar­ried to each other, so it was no sur­prise that they brought to this en­joy­ably civ­i­lized, gen­er­ally re­laxed af­ter­noon a high level of what is nec­es­sary for ex­cel­lence in cham­ber mu­sic — well-honed mu­si­cal chops and the abil­ity to play well with oth­ers. The two dis­patched Mozart’s Duo in B-flat Ma­jor forthrightly, not bury­ing the del­i­cate tex­ture be­neath a weight of “in­ter­pre­ta­tion,” eschew­ing even a wink when, in the de­vel­op­ment sec­tion of the open­ing move­ment, Mozart lets loose a bril­liant bout of neo-Baroque canon.

Prokofiev’s Sonata for Two Vi­o­lins fol­lowed, with Te­nen­bom re­tir­ing and Ben­jamin Beil­man tak­ing his place along­side Kavafian, who is his teacher at Cur­tis. She ob­served that her stu­dent, who is 21 years old, has had a good year, which is cer­tainly the case; in 2010 he was awarded first prize at the Mon­tréal In­ter­na­tional Mu­si­cal Competition and the bronze medal (plus spe­cial awards for Bach and Mozart in­ter­pre­ta­tion) at the very pres­ti­gious In­ter­na­tional Vi­o­lin Competition of In­di­anapo­lis, and he was given a spot on the ros­ter of Young Con­cert Artists, which has launched the ca­reers of many lead­ing soloists. The Prokofiev duo-sonata demon­strates a vi­o­lin­ist’s abil­i­ties rather in the way that trac­ing com­pul­sory fig­ures re­veals the skill of an ice skater. It’s a se­vere work: its four move­ments fo­cus more on lin­ear phras­ing and the bal­ance of coun­ter­point than on vir­tu­osic, vi­o­lin­is­tic ef­fects crafted to as­ton­ish; the com­poser called it an ex­am­ple of his “len­ten ver­ti­cal style.” As such, it’s a good test piece for an emerg­ing

Ida Kavafian

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