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Review: Mimir fest performance ranges from silly to sublime

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Mimir Chamber Music Festival

• 7:30 Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday

• PepsiCo Recital Hall, TCU

• Tickets $25, $15 seniors and students with ID.

• 817-257-5443; www.mimirfestival.org

Posted 11:22pm on Friday, Jul. 05, 2013

As they did Tuesday, the professionals took the stage again Friday at the Mimir Chamber Music Festival.

Violinists Jun Iwasaki and Curt Thompson, violist Kirsten Docter and cellist Brant Taylor launched into the unusual opening piece, Tales From Chelm, a piece for string quartet by the eclectic composer Paul Schoenfeld. Chelm is a mythical town filled with clueless Jews, and comedians and short story writers, such as Sholem Aleichem (of Fiddler on the Roof fame), have long mined the comic possibilities.

The four movements are based on some of the stories, which TCU associate professor Richard Estes read before each movement. They include a tightrope walker enlisted to stop runny noses by having everyone look up, and the town’s army avenging its defeat by a drunken wedding guest. The four musicians were too serious but they gave a splendid performance of this densely contrapuntal but thoroughly delightful work.

After intermission, the evening turned from the silly to the sublime with a performance of Franz Schubert’s Piano Trio in E-flat major. Violinist Frank Huang and pianist John Novacek joined cellist Taylor in a musically taut performance.

Schubert incorporated a Swedish folk tune, Se solen sjunker ( See the setting sun). Others, even Dmitri Shostakovich, used it afterward, but none as charmingly as Schubert in this trio. Taylor was the most impressive as his rich and vibrant cello sang the soaring melodies. Huang was a sympathetic partner, as was Novacek, some crudely played fortissimos aside. Overall, this was an elegant performance, played with style and close attention to detail.

Wednesday, the two young artists quartets, who are in residence for the festival, greatly impressed. Their second performance Saturday evening is eagerly anticipated. The festival’s combination of professionals and emerging artists has offered an enticing glimpse into the future of chamber music, and it is bright indeed.

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