Last night, December 2, Curtis put on its 20th student recital. This was a typical one, an eclectic bunch of composer and student artists. The performances were excellent as usual, though I did have some reservations about some of the pieces. What I went for was the Stravinsky Octet for flute, clarinet, two bassoons, two trombones and two trumpets. It was wonderfully played and very witty and clever. It's from Stravinsky's "neo-classical" period though it didn't really sound very new or very classical. The kids played great, though, and it was a joy to listen to again putting to rest the idea that winds can't play together or in tune.
Two surprises. First Louisa Womack from Rochester NY playing a Fantasia by Giovanni Bottesini for Double bass and piano. Bottesini was a 19th century double bass virtuoso. Previous bass solos have been stodgy affairs. To now, the bassists there at Curtis, while sounding very good and very resonant, didn't really make their instruments sing. Ms. Womack sang out amazingly well. It's amazing to watch these bass players' left hands. They have to shift almost on every note and what a distance they have to travel. Violinists and violists can play most notes from one position. Not so the poor bassist. And the distance to travel for a violinist or violist is really a matter of inches. And bending down over that instrument must give them sore back.
The second surprise was Anastasia Agapova, the very fine Russian violin student accompanied by Hugh Sung, probably the best of the great accompanists you see working at Curtis. She played the Bartok Violin Concerto #2 which is, to my taste, a bit strange. It has tender and lyrical sections that transport me, then brings me down to earth with pyrotechnical passages which don't do anything but give us notes in a row. She played with all the virtuosic fire and emotion called for and more so but also played warmly and tenderly when she needed to tell that part of the story. It was nice to hear her again. She always was fiery and it's great to hear the more mature version of her.
Other works on the program were the Hindemith trombone sonata, a piece by Daniel Shapiro, a composition student at Curtis, and "Sketches" for viola and piano by Andrew Hsu, a piano student who seems to have done a bit of composing which is, based on what I've heard, quite promising.
The series continues on Monday night.
"Maintenance is a breeze. I am so happy that we chose InstantEncore!"