A musical feast in Hungary

DistlerThu 19th August 2010

The Kaposvár International Chamber Music Festival - Part 3

Due to recent flooding, concerts scheduled in the Szivárvány Music Hall had to be moved to the small auditorium in the local music school. Apparently not everyone who purchased tickets to the August 15th Sunday morning concert knew this, nor could everyone who purchased tickets get into the venue.

Hopefully the confusion and late starts I’ve witnessed this weekend will sort themselves out as the festival progresses. At least the presenters were kind enough to offer disgruntled patrons free and/or discounted tickets to other events. At any rate, this morning’s concert opened with Puccini’s Crisantemi for string quartet, which was dominated by first violinist Mikhail Ovrutsky’s rich, beefy and absolutely even tone. In Schumann’s Op 74 Fantasiestücke, cellist Dóra Kokas’ reserve and seeming reluctance to play full out above the staff contrasted with how the brilliant young Argentenian pianist José Gallardo imbued each phrase with variety and meaning. Yet all of the care and commitment that Zoltán Kocsis and his former professor Ferenc Rados brought to a selection of György Kurtág’s authentic works and adaptations for piano duet could not disguise the music’s arid, charmless character. Background church bells added welcome rhythmic counterpoint to one of the selections, as Kocsis himself conceded before the pianists played it again for the benefit of the Hungarian Radio microphones – this time without bells.

Happily, Gallardo returned in the second half with violinsts Márta Ábraham and Alina Pogostkina, violist Gilad Karni and cellist Jan-Erik Gustasson for Schumann’s Piano Quintet. Gallardo’s imaginative yet perfectly proportioned rubatos, red-blooded tone, and effortless technique splendidly complemented his colleagues’ joyous and ever-alert ensemble work. The predominantly fast tempi never ran away from the musicians, who clearly were enjoying themselves as much as the audience. I felt sated and fulfilled, yet managed to digest the Scherzo’s Trio and recapitulation served up as an encore.

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Distler

Composer, pianist, concert presenter and Gramophone contributor Jed Distler looks back, present and forward about the piano in our lives, and the lives of the piano.

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