Over the past two weeks I’ve been able to make it to a fair number of summer music festival concerts. On July 9th and 16th, I went to Chamber Music Northwest‘s Club Series concerts at Jimmy Mak’s and Doug Fir. These concerts feature members of the festival’s Protégé Project, all young musicians done with their schooling and at the beginning of their professional careers. The two concerts I’ve seen so far were quite engaging and interesting, both on account of the venues and the repertoire. The performances were also uniformly spectacular. But, more on that later – keep your eye on Oregon Arts Watch for my piece on all three concerts coming out after the final concert, which takes place at the Alberta Rose Theater on July 23rd [tickets].
On this past Tuesday evening, I heard the “Heroic Chamber Symphonies” concert, also by Chamber Music Northwest, this time in Lincoln Performance Hall at Portland State University. It was a wonderful concert, notable for several stellar turns amongst an already starry array of performers, both local and from around the world. Violinists Bella Hristova and Stephen Copes played the holy shit out of the Prokofiev Sonata for Two Violins. I’ve heard several live performances and several great recordings of this piece, and never have I heard it played so well as that night. Incredible. Flutist Tara Helen O’Connor was stupefyingly good in her solo bits in the highly underserved and neglected Kammermusik Op. 24, no. 1 by Paul Hindemith. It was my first chance to hear Ms. O’Connor live, and she is quite something. Spectacular.
This past Wednesday, it was the second of the three Club Concerts, this time at Doug Fir, and there was much to like on this program, which I’ll save for my Oregon Arts Watch piece. The Dover Quartet joined the other protégés, and the results were again amazing.
Then, Thursday night, I was at the Historic Old Church for the chamber music recital by the faculty members of the Portland Summer Ensembles chamber music camp. The first half of the concert was Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring for two pianos, played with maximum virtuosity and precision by Yoko Greeney and Susan Dewitt Smith, but with a twist. Faculty percussionist Jonathan Greeney arranged a percussion tour de force to go along with the piano parts, which made an already wonderful experience even more so. Watching Greeney dance on the timpani was almost as good as watching Gene Kelly singin’ in the rain. The second half showcased the string faculty, with Jun Iwasaki, Inés Voglar Belgique, Jennifer Arnold, Joël Belgique, and Trevor Fitzpatrick, in Brahms’ great String Quintet in G major, Op. 111. The lines soared, the harmonies bloomed, and a great time was had by all. The PSE student concert takes place this Saturday, July 19th at 7:00 pm at St. Anne’s Chapel at Marylhurst University. Admission is free.