Music Review: Craftsbury Chamber Players offer excellence
By Jim Lowe
Staff Writer | July 22,2013
Jim Lowe / Staff photo
Members of the Craftsbury Chamber Players, from left, Frances Rowell, Kenji Bunch, Katherine Winterstein and Mary Rowell, acknowledge applause after a performance of a Haydn string quartet.
BURLINGTON — The Craftsbury Chamber Players opened its 48th season last week at the University of Vermont Recital Hall, as it nearly always does — with unheralded excellence.
The Juilliard-based chamber music festival, which offers weekly concerts Wednesdays in Burlington and Thursdays in Hardwick through Aug. 21, is one of Vermont’s best-kept secrets. Directed by pianist Mary Anthony Cox, it is one of the few summer festivals that isn’t a school. Rather, the concerts are mature efforts by seasoned artists — and usually eminently satisfying.
A perfect example is Wednesday’s performance of Beethoven’s Piano in B-flat Major, Opus 97, “Archduke,” a regal work more grand than dramatic. Pianist Inessa Zaretsky, violinist Katherine Winterstein and cellist Frances Rowell plumbed the work’s depth in a way only veteran musicians can.
Zaretsky, who teaches at New York’s Mannes College of Music, performed the work expansively and, though she could be a bit brash at times, expressively. Winterstein, concertmaster of the Vermont Symphony Orchestra, played with a warm and tender expressiveness as well as passion. Rowell, a Craftsbury native and Vermont Youth Orchestra alumna who went on to a professional career, was quietly expressive, drawing the listener into her depth.
Although there were a few moments that were rushed, the “Archduke” was delivered in all its grandeur, with a tenderly expressive performance of the singing slow movement, Andante cantabile.
Another Craftsbury native and VYO and Juilliard alumna with a subsequent professional career, violinist Mary Rowell led a full-blooded performance of Haydn’s String Quartet in g minor, Opus 74, No. 3, “Rider,” joined by Winterstein, violist Kenji Bunch and Frances Rowell (Mary’s sister).
Mary Rowell, a founding member (now retired) of the avant-garde string quartet Ethel, made the slow movement, Largo assai, sound almost improvisational and delivered the final Allegro con brio with a real Gypsy flair.
Bunch, who teaches at Juilliard, was represented as a composer by his 2007 “Velocity” for flute and piano. Immanuel Davis performed the flute part with virtuosic flair, albeit with a somewhat monochromatic sound, while pianist Monica Ohuchi (Bunch’s wife) delivered both the velocity and grand moments.
As usual, the Craftsbury Chamber Players delivered not only excellent performances, but it was a fascinating program.
Craftsbury Chamber Players
The Craftsbury Chamber Players present varied chamber music programs July 17-Aug. 21: 8 p.m. Wednesdays at the University of Vermont Recital Hall, 460 S. Prospect St. in Burlington; and 8 p.m. Thursdays at the Hardwick Town House, 127 Church St. in Hardwick. Tickets are $25, $10 for students (12 and younger free); call 1-800-639-3443, or go online to www.craftsburychamberplayers.org.