"GUITARIST JOINS TRIO FOR LIVELY STRING MUSIC"
NEWBURGH — In the annual Mother's Day concert at St. George's Church, the Newburgh Chamber Music players featured works that were composed over four centuries, beginning with "Two Trios for Three" by Giovanni Bassano (1558-1617) and concluding with "Summertime" by George Gershwin (1898-1937).
It was in the Bassano piece that violinist Carole Cowan, violist Valentinea Charlap-Evans and cellist Susan Seligman early on exhibited the kind of discriminating musicianship that would set the tone for the remainder of the strings-only concert. Following the somber mood of the first trio, the second part was marked by lyric playing by the violinist, full-bodied tones by the cellist and good balance among all three performers.
In "Chatingo (bulerias)" that followed, guitarist Maria Zemantauski, guest artist and composer, raised the intensity level of the concert by percussive and rapid slapping of the guitar's body before engaging the strings. And going beyond the wide-sweeping right hand sounds of Villa-Lobos' Prelude No. 1 in E minor for Guitar, she pushed the energy level even further with flinging fingers on the right hand and bold stroking with the left in "Punta y Tacon (farruca)."
Turning to more traditional music, Zemantauski joined the string trio in Vivaldi's Concerto in D major for Guitar and Strings, a work in which the trio section of the largo stood out for its reflective mood.
From baroque to early classical, the second half of the program opened with Haydn's String Trio in G major, Op. 53, an easily accessible peace that began with a lilting dancelike melody in the allegretto and closed with upward swooping bows in the climactic end of the presto movement.
For Astor Piazzola's "Dernier Lamento," the duet of Cowan and Zemantauski complemented each other with romantic lyricism on the violin and arpeggio support on the guitar. With Seligman joining the twosome in "Libertango," Piazzola's last piece of the set stood out for engaging guitar playing, bouncing bow patterns on the cello and hard-pull pizzicatos on the violin. In a change of pace, the movement faded to infinity.
With "Rumba del Rio" and "Tinto Verano (siguiriya)," Zemantauski revealed once more a talent for idiomatic composing and performing as she combined body slapping and left hand fingering technique with abandon.
Rounding out the concert was a fantasy-style arrangement of "Summertime" by violinist Joe Venuti (of opposite hand fame). In her playing of the piece, Cowan elegantly alternated "singing" phrases of the tune with improvisational passages and even some rolling arpeggios.