Even if you missed all of the prelude concerts in this year’s Chamber Music Festival of Lexington, it was fairly obvious there were some big changes this year from the downbeat of the first main stage concert at the Fasig Tipton Pavilion, Wednesday night.
First, you were there on Wednesday.
In a major shift, the Fasig Tipton shows are now three concerts spread out over five days, instead of on consecutive days. Second, there were a lot more faces on stage, representing the integration of the previous two seasons’ prelude concerts and the Fasig Tipton shows anchored by the fest’s core quintet of violinists Nathan Cole and Akiko Tarumoto, violist Burchard Tang, cellist Priscilla Lee and pianist Alessio Bax.
Tang was the first of the group to take the stage, accompanied by guest artist Allegra Lilly, harp, and flutist Garrett Hudson of ensemble-in-residence WindSync. That trio gathered at the beginning of both halves of the concert to play an illuminating combination of works: Fear of Falling in Love by Los Angeles based composer — there is a theme here — Jeff Beal and Claude Debussy’s Sonata for flute, viola and harp.
Beal, whose credits include music for the Netflix series House of Cards, clearly has an ear for story-telling music, Lilly’s harp opening the piece in dreamlike flourishes while Hudson’s flute went on an adventure and the viola wound up the tension. It was an intriguing piece and stood in contrast to Debussy’s also picturesque but much more melodic work that opened Part II.
Lilly was busy most of the night, playing on L.A. composer — theme? — David Lefkowitz’s rhythmic Berceuse as well as the show closing Introduction and Allegro by Maurice Ravel, a piece that put the most musicians ever on the Chamber Fest stage with all the core string players, Lilly and WindSync’s Hudson and clarinetist Jack Marquardt. That unified the first and second half finales as dazzlers, the big piece showing a range of chamber music from a huge sound to Lilly’s intricate solo harp. Cole and Bax closed the first half with Franz Schubert’s Sonata for violin and piano in A major in a performance that was particularly delightful in Bax’s embrace of the dancing melody.
WindSync got its own moment in the spotlight with Samuel Barber’s Summer Music, which epitomized the charm of this concert and set the stage for the weekend to come.
Friday’s concert will focus on the core quintet and more Los Angeles music with the world premiere of composer-in-residence Adam Schoenberg’s Go. Sunday afternoon will put Bax in the spotlight with a few solo turns along with yet another new voice: Lexington-based soprano Karen Slack, who will be making her local debut as a soloist with a 21st century work by Drew Schnurr and some George Gershwin delights to close out the festival. (Read more about Go and Slack in Friday’s Weekender.)
And by the time it is over, it should be abundantly clear that this is an event that has grown and changed.