We often talk, among music fans, about the joy of an intimate concert — the chance to hear a great artist in a small setting, up close and personal.
By its nature, that’s something you can forget at the Chamber Music Festival of Lexington. This is music that, by definition, you should hear in a smaller setting than, say, a couple-thousand-seat concert hall.
But there on the stage Friday night at the Fasig-Tipton Pavilion, before just a few hundred folks, were the first associate concertmaster of the Los Angeles Philharmonic (Nathan Cole), two high ranking musicians in the Philadelphia Orchestra (violist Burchard Tang and cellist Priscilla Lee) and a pianist (Alessio Bax) who could sing the chorus of Joe Jackson’s “On Your Radio” and mean it delivering a performance of Johannes Brahams’ “Piano Quartet No. 2” that could make you ache and leap though their performances. The musicians play a dizzying volume of work over a week, but they caressed the passages of Brahms’ masterpiece like they had been working on it together for months.
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The concert’s second half Brahms was well-paired with the first half world premiere of Avner Dorman’s “How to Love,” which illustrated the many variations of its title emotion in a performance by Cole, Lee and Tang along with violinist Akiko Tarumoto and guest artist Jason Vieaux, a rising guitar star the festival astonishingly (and thankfully) was able to bring back for a second year. (The video, above, is the work’s final movement, “You are Partly Right.”) Dorman’s work was, much like the Brahams, a run from plaintive to jaunty to histrionic in the space of four speedy movements inspired by the book of the same name by Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh. Folks who liked what they heard can come back for more of Dorman’s work Sunday afternoon.
The evening opened with the pairing of Cole and Bax on Franz Schubert’s “Fantasie in C Major.” It’s a pairing chamber fest fans have become used to hearing and seeing in the event’s now 10 years.
And over that decade, hearing these amazing musicians up close and personal has only become more of a privilege.
If you go
Chamber Music Festival of Lexington
What: Mainstage Concert III featuring music by Avner Dorman, Andres Segovia, Niccolo Paganini and Aaron Jay Kernis.
When: 2 p.m. Sunday
Where: Fasig-Tipton Pavilion, 2400 Newtown Pike
Tickets: $35 in advance, $40 at the door, $15 students with ID