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Competition Report

Competition Report by Joan Champie

Chamber Music of Yellow Springs concluded its 2016-2017 season on Sunday, April 23rd, with the 32nd Annual Competition for Emerging Artists. Finalists of the Competition were Trio St. Bernard and the Vera String Quartet.

Formed in 2015, Trio St. Bernard features Sahan “Sam” Hong, piano; Brandon Garbot, violin; and Zachary Mowitz, cello. The Trio has earned acclaim for its creative and energizing performances in New York and several other states on the East coast.

The Vera Quartet was also formed in 2015. Its members are Pedro Rodriguez, violin; Patricia Quintero Garcia, violin; Ines Picado Molares, viola; and Justin Goldsmith, cello. The Quartet has performed in Germany, Canada and Korea.

Both groups displayed technical competence and musical sensitivities within the context of a well balanced ensemble.

A trio by its nature requires acute awareness of the balance between piano and strings, which represent a challenging range of tone qualities. Trio St. Bernard notably maintained an impressive balance. The piano was brilliant, delicate, or soaring, as required by the music, and the string instruments added color and dimension. Each member played with finesse and beauty.

The Trio chose an interesting but unusual selection of short works, with an Allegro from Beethoven’s Piano Trio Op. 70, No. 1, followed by “Se solen sjunker” by Berg, a tender and lyrical work which gracefully segued into a movement from Schubert’s Piano Trio in E-flat Major, Op. 100, D929. Next, the fourth of Four Folk Songs for Piano Trio by Frank also was joined to Shostakovich’s brief Piano Trio No. 1, Op.8, the most modern work of their program. They concluded with a Gesange from Op.8 of Brahms, arranged specially by the Trio.

The Vera Quartet in contrast performed two major works, Bartok’s String Quartet No. 3 and String Quartet in C Major, Op. 59, No. 3 by Beethoven. The stylistic demands of these two pieces amply demonstrated their musical versatility and provided a stimulating contrast for the audience. All movements of the Bartok were joined, with the four instruments having quite individual parts and the musicians playing dissonant, assertive chords with vigor and forceful energy. Reflective moments were rare. The Beethoven Quartet allowed moments for individual members to shine, and there were lovely, soaring melodies beautifully played by each instrument. The final movement was marked Allegro Molto, played with accuracy and breathtaking speed to end their performance.

The two ensembles displayed quite different approaches to their music, which was intensified by their selected pieces and individual styles. This was reflected by the firmly held and divergent opinions of the audience expressed during the interval between the concert and the judges’ decision.

Judges for the 2017 competition were Afa Sadeykhly Dworkin, James Tocco, and Jeffrey Zeigler. Following the evening’s performances, the judges announced the winner of the competition: the Vera Quartet.

The pre-concert lecture was presented by Dennis Loranger, Music Professor from Wright State University.

 

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