December 13, 2018

Evgeny Zvonnikov and Vesselin Todorov
Spohr’s Duo for Violin and Viola
Nov 28, Fine Arts Complex Recital Hall WTAMUU

Wednesday, Nov 28, violnist Evgeny Zvonnikov of the Harrington String Qaurtet and WTAMU music faculty, gave, with the help of Vesselin Todorov  on viola and Mila Abassova and Diego Caetano on piano, a bravura performance in the Fine Arts Complex Recital Hall.

Evgeny continues to astound, with the range of his artistry, and that he so generously shares his talent is much appreciated.  And the audience, on this cold November night in cowboy country, was feted to a not-so-cowboy program of Bach, Spohr, Sarasate and Frank.

Bach’s “Chaconne” from “Partita #2” was the program’s nod to the Baroque. Evgeny’s take on the Leipzig Kappelmeister’s creation was double-stopping gypsification. The tone color which emerged was almost viola-like, then sometimes Evgeny produced an extraordinary lyricism with eruptions of  bariolaging.  Not a bad start to the program.

Louis Spohr was a transitional composer from the classical to early Romanticism, whose works fell into obscurity for over a century. Perhaps this is because the composer doesn’t evince an attitude or agenda, the Romantic equivalent of easy listening.  And, hopefully, Evgeny will continue to rehabilitate Spohr’s reputations as he makes use of the composer’s invention: the chinrest.

Pablo de Sarasate had the quirky compositional habit of creating works that would showcase his own superior techniques which he and only a few, like EZ, could perform: try pizzicato with the left and vigorous bowing with the right.  EZ made it look easy! And, though this work was influenced by the zortzico, a Basque dance, at times it pulsed like a street scene in Valencia.

Cesar Frank also had a similar habit to de Sarasate, only his piano works included twelve key chord spans that only his giant maws could encompass.  Yet slight but powerful pianist Diego Caetano met the challenge helping make this performance of  the “Sonata in A major” memorable.

As a teacher, Franck’s persistent admonition was to “modulate, MODULATE!” He would have been pleased by Evgeny’s efforts in this regard, as well as the impressive energy both artists demonstrated in this performance.  The undulation between poignancy and passion was sustained through four different movements, including an Allegro in Sonata form, an Allegreto in Rondo, and a free will improv in the Third.

And, at the end, the audience applauded and kept applauding.  And such a sustained approval for a world-class performance isn’t a one- off here in the Panhandle, but a regular feature in the arts.

So, to the applause of many, we offer the hommage: “Keep Amarillo Artsy!  Keep Austin Weird! Keep Lubbock in the Rear View Mirror!!!!”

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