Chamber music festival continues through Wednesday at Sarasota Opera House
In its latest International Chamber Music Festival concert, La Musica delivered a program that ended in a dead-on performance of a great work: Dmitri Shostakovich’s “Piano Quintet in G minor, Opus 57.”
As presented by Federico Agostini and Ruth Lenz, violins; Bruno Giuranna, viola; Antonio Meneses, cello; and Derek Han, piano, we heard classic sonorities taken to a new place, providing the entrance to a tonal atmosphere that combines those familiar sounds with breathtaking modern textures.
Led by the edgy sound of the piano, expertly rendered by Han, the string instruments built a landscape that was nothing short of ravishing, at once delicate and mysterious, passionate and thrilling. Audience members could be heard holding their breath in anticipation of the next impressive combination of the classic and the modern.
The concert began with an adequate performance of Nicolo Paganini’s “Terzetto Concertante in D Major,” in which energy seemed lacking, both in the writing and in the execution by Daniel Palmizio, viola; Christine J. Lee, cello; and Jason Vieaux, guitar. The composer is known for a varied and sometimes mysterious career, and he often staged his concerts on a darkened stage for large amounts of money.
Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, the composer of the following program selection was, on the other hand, prominent in America, building a following in Hollywood sponsored by such leading musical figures as Jascha Heifetz and Arturo Toscanini. His association with Andres Segovia resulted in the creation of 100 works for guitar.
In Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s “Quintet for Guitar and String Quartet in F Major, Opus 143,” addressing issues of tonal balance created by the contrast between classical guitar and an ensemble (Lenz and Claudio Cruz, violins; Palmizio, viola, and Erica Piccotti, cello) was a challenge met by unobtrusive amplification of the guitar, played by Vieaux.
In this performance, the use of dissonance in the upper strings was amusingly contrasted with the sonorities of the guitar. The combination of luxurious skill and sly humor was most welcome and received strong approval from the audience.
In addition to the timing and coordination of the performances, the rain, which added its own music by drumming on the roof, magically ceased in time for the audience to exit to bright sunshine, a perfect expression of the skillful performances we had just heard.