Efimerida ton Sintakton – Review

Dreamy Nights of Music

A lot of good classical music is being played also this August on the islands of the Saronic Gulf, giving an ideal chance to music enthusiasts of any origin to combine listening to concerts with holidays.

Between 31/7 and 7/8/ 2015, in the context of the 5th Saronic Chamber Music Festival, were given six chamber music evenings. The compositions were played by the musicians of the “Leondari Ensemble”, members of important international orchestras, opera companies and ensembles from the U.S.A., Canada, Australia, Switzerland, Germany, Greece and Britain. All of them donate their time, and are connected through long term relationships of friendships and cooperation.

The project started in 2011 as an initiative of violinist Jannis Agraniotis and Australian violist Francis Kefford. They both had the vision of a music festival, which would give to the musicians the chance to deepen in the repertoire, through concentrated preparation workshops, and at the same time offer high quality concerts in the Saronic Gulf.

The festival is supported by private initiative and sponsors and is held under the auspices of the Municipalities of Poros, Hydra, Spetses and Trizina-Methana. This year it was realized with the sponsorships of the German and the Canadian Embassy in Athens and the support of the firma Raycap.

Warm folkloric reference

We attended three concerts and earned excellent impressions. Eleven musicians – three of them with expensive, famous, historic instruments of the 18th century- played works of the classic and romantic repertoire. Accomplished professionals, with rich experience and obvious devotion to music, the young flourishing musicians suggested exquisite repertoire combinations and offered very well elaborated ensemble interpretations.

The opening concert was held in the wonderfully reconstructed, former industrial hall of the “Bratsera Hotel” (Hydra, 31.7.2015). It included works of the Romantic era with references to traditional music.

The “Piano quartet n.1 by Brahms was presented with supple phrasing, vividly articulated, with dancing beat and discreetly dancing pace, clearly distinguished transitions between lyric melodic paragraphs and parts of development of the musical material, and a general firm control of the dramaturgy of the music.

German pianist Caspar Frantz played with nobility, accuracy and contained sentiment, Rebekka Markowski “sung “sensually on the cello and violinist Bogdan Bozovic lead with self- assurance and verve pushing up the temperature of the music with perfect timing. The performance ended with a vigorous, demonically intense reading of the “gypsy” rondo.

The euphoric, symphonic dense Dvorak string quintet followed. The performance underlined legibly and warmly the folkloric references of the music. through the light jumping accentuation of the idiomatic dancing rhythms and the charming singing of the luscious melodic material by the violinists Anna Blackmur and Bogdan Bozovic. Crucial in both works was the delightful participation of the two viola soloists Francis Kefford and Rosalind Ventris, who contributed flawless intonation and sweet sound.

Austere joys of classicism

The concert in the open air Syggrou Amphitheatre (Poros, 1.8.2015) started with the ” String quartet, Harp” by Beethoven. The performance, driven by the leading playing of the marvellous Canadian violinist Benjamin Bowman, was clearly orientated to historical interpretation, had an austere introverted character, curt, sharp articulation, violent transitions of dynamics and speeds.

Despite the often vertiginous speed, the sound remained transparent and the phrasing legible. The contributions of violist Rosalind Ventris and Canadian cellist Ariel Barnes were crucial. The repeat of Dvorak’s String quintet followed.

The concert in the reception Room of the historic “Poseidonion ” hotel, an ideal hall for chamber music, included works of the Classical Era. (Spetses 2.8.2015). It started with Mozart’s Piano Concerto n. 12

in the original transcription as a Piano Quintet. Frantz on the piano with Bozovic, Agraniotis, Ventris and Barnes on the strings formed an effortless, light super elegant reading, with an indolent, wavy propulsive beat, accurate phrasing, nice pianistic cadenzas and a brilliant, mobile finale.

Following this, Agraniotis, Markowski and Frantz offered the Piano Trio op70 n.2 by Beethoven in light Haydn-Mozartian reading, build with a stable rhythmical pace, civilized dialogues between the instruments and at places rough contrasts a la “Storm and Stress.” The evening finished with the repetition of Beethoven’s Harp quartet, this time in acoustically perfect surroundings.