|Ensemble getting ready to play "String Cycle"|
The concert began with Prokofiev’s “Sonata for Two Violins,” which received incisive playing by Megumi Stohs Lewis and Sasha Callahan. They deftly kept a tonal balance while exchanging the leading melodic line between each other. The music seemed more intellectual than emotional at times, because of the crisscrossing lines, but sweet third movement (“Commodo”) and the fourth (“Allegro con brio”) really sang.
As an introduction to Kenji Bunch’s “String Circle,” Sasha Callahan interviewed Bunch before the playing commenced. With an unassuming air, he described how his piece is sort of a fiddlers’ jam that taps into Appalachian folk, Texas Swing, a setting of A Wayfaring Stranger, and the sound of a fax machine. The ensemble (violinists Greg Ewer and Callahan, violists Charles Noble and Bunch, and cellist Leo Eguchi) set it all into motion, starting with the slip-slidy “Lowdown.” A lighthearted “Shuffle Step” offered brief solos for the violas and the cello. “Ballad” was poignant tribute to a song made famous by Johnny Cash. The pizzicati-ensemble playing in “Porch Picking” lifted the mood and set the table for the motoric “Overdrive,” which featured a rhythmically gnawing sound.
|Quartet receiving applause after the Quartet in E Flat|
By pairing wine and chamber music at local wineries, the WVCMF has found a winning combination for its concert series. The festival, which is now in its third year, featured Joan Tower as composer-in-residence for the first week of concerts. It provides a great way to get out of town and enjoy the wine country with high-caliber performances. Prosit!