An estimated forty or so hard-core chamber music fanatics were treated at the Fibonacci Space on 6th St. Thursday night to a preview performance of the concert that David Palmer, artistic director of CMA and Annie Chalex Boyle of TTU will play at the Fruttilar Musical Weeks in Frutillar, Chile.
This festival, one the largest classical celebrations in the country, has been held every summer (remember, this is the southern hemisphere) since 1968. This year’s performers, besides being from Chile, come from seven other countries. Only one other American artist is scheduled besides David and Annie.
To find out more go to semanasmusicales.c/.
Their program opened with the Violin Sonata #2 by Eugene Ysaye, a Belgian violinist, composer and conductor, sometimes called the “Tsar of the Violin.”
This work, dedicated to his friend Jacques Thibaud, actually mocks the latter’s naivete by contrasting themes: Bach’s Partita #3 and Dies Irae from the mass. With friends like that…..
Into the mix Ysaye’s penchant for tempo robato is evident. This allows performers license to modulate the tempo for effect. What emerged from the ferocious bowing and pounding keyboard was a classic battle twixt good and evil, the angels and Satan.
The tempestuous fervor of the double-stopping violin makes the listener think the devil won this round.
The second work was by the Estonian minimalist composer Arvo Part, credited with creation of the Tintinnabuli style which is surreal and spooky. His music taunts the unknown with revelations, like the arctic taiga at -50 degrees F.
His duet “Fratres” uses the same chord repeatedly, opening with a piercing violin that’s just short of a protracted fingernail scratch on a blackboard.
Parts of Parts (cute, huh!) resonate with the impact of a Baltic blizzard with triple f on the keys and an angry, single-chord frenzy on the violin. Then the theme turns lofty and alone, the stillness induced by the paralyzing cold smothering the frozen forest.
Amarillo audiences have heard a pair of Parts – love the play on words – in as many months, the first with Claudio Espejo at the Amarillo College Piano Series. That alone is a commentary of the variety and quality of art here on the plains.
The final work was the Kreutzer Sonata by Beethoven, long regarded as a supreme test for artistic collaboration. The drama surrounding the name is true soap-opera fodder.
The first movement opens with a powerfully dissonant violin which is answered by the piano, which then moves the tonal center a half step, a process often repeated in the piece. LVB would explore this approach most fully in his Diabelli Variations.
Through the first movement Beethoven’s pugnacity is most evident in the violin. And, though the composer seems to mellow in the second movement, the softening is ephemeral as he responds with high energy in the third.
These three demanding works require an enormous empathy between the artists and a sensitivity and artistry equal to the demands of the composer. And, Annie’s and David’s performance, on the Guarneri and Fazioli, was simply world-class, and right here in Yellow City.
We know that they will equally thrill their Chilean audiences, who unfortunately will have to travel up to Texas to hear what so often we take for granted.
That’s why we can say: “Keep Amarillo Artsy! Keep Austin Weird! Keep Lubbock in the Rear View Mirror!!!!!”