Indiana History Center; Nov. 8
Lesson learned? Never schedule a concert for the evening following
any election during this consequential
time in which we live. It's guaranteed to keep people home, and was surely the
cause for the relatively smaller turnout for a series which usually well fills
the IHC's Basile Theater. However, those who usually attend and didn't this
time missed an evening of luscious harp playing, dominating the 11 offerings. They
were nicely complemented by 2010's International Violin Competition of Indianapolis's
Indianapolis'ssixth-place laureate, Andrey Baranov and piano accompanist Miki
The harpist was 21-year-old Agnès Clément, first prize
winner of the eighth USA International Harp Competition in Bloomington
-- also from 2010. Solo harp playing is
rarely heard in local environs, yet just two weeks ago, the Indianapolis Chamber
Orchestra hosted Czech Republic
harpist and international concertizer, Jana Boušková. Though they say good
things come in threes, I see no more harpist appearances in the offing.
Camille Saint-Saëns' late-written (1907) Fantasie for Violin
and Harp, Op. 124 began the proceedings, with Clément's arpeggiated rolls
giving the, by then, conservative Romantic composer an impressionistic quality.
Baranov's violin occasionally overshadowed Clément's delicate strums with
somewhat brash, overpowering bowing.
Then we had five harp solos, completing the first half,
Clément creating her magic across many eras, with music by Manuel de Falla
(1876-1946), Claude Debussy (1862-1918), Jean Phillipe Rameau (1683-1764),
Michael Maganuco (b. 1987) and Elias Parish-Alvars (1808-1849). Having
witnessed so few of them in my lifetime, I confess to lacking the ability to
judge harp-playing nuances. Given this qualification,
Clément's strumming throughout sounded masterful, her notes right on target and
her dynamic shading wholly apropos. She seemed to produce a lighter
sound than Boušková, who also appeared to have a larger instrument.
Baranov joined Clément after the break for Debussy's La plus que lente, just one of many
instrument combinations for which the composer arranged this waltz. Baranov
continued to dominate excessively. But for the next three pieces, it was a
Baranov-Aoki -- violin-piano -- duo: Shostakovich's 4 Preludes, Op. 34;
Tchaikovsky's Valse-Scherzo, also Op.
34; Pablo de Sarasate's very well known Zigeunerweisen
(a Spanish composition with a very German moniker), Op. 20 No. 1. Here Baranov
better impressed with not only more contained bowing control, but managing the
latter piece's manifest difficulties with great dispatch.
Violinist and harpist rejoined for the final number, "Tango
Nightclub 1960," by that Argentine tango master, Astor Piazzolla (1921-1992). That's
when we had the standing ovation.