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In performance: Tibor Kovac

Web-only review:

Kovac, Orkis, Hardy offer duos and trios
by Joe Banno

Tuesday's chamber recital at the Embassy of Austria focused attention on Slovakian violinist
Tibor Kovac, a current member of the Vienna Philharmonic and a string-section alumnus of the Franz Liszt Chamber Orchestra and L'Orchestre de la Suisse Romande. A satisfying mix of familiar music, the program was divided between works for violin and piano (Brahms's Sonata in A, Op. 100, and Sarasate's "Carmen" Fantasy) and piano trios (Mozart's B-flat, K. 502, and Mendelssohn's D-Minor, Op. 49), with pianist Lambert Orkis and cellist David Hardy partnering Kovac.
(read more after the jump)

As might be expected from a veteran orchestral player, Kovac adapted readily to the differing styles of the pieces, rather than trying to wrestle them around to fit an idiosyncratic sound of his own. The Brahms -- a verdant, generously melodic score -- drew from him an uncommonly sweet tone, his relaxed lyricism fitting this music hand-in-glove. In the killer Sarasate Fantasy, Kovac's low notes became huskier, the top grew more diamond-edged and his approach to the work's barrage of violinistic special-effects stressed virtuosic display over operatic mimicry, his moderate pacing allowing the widest range of timbral color to register.

Orkis was his usual insightful self throughout the program, not least with his subtly italicized phrasing in the Mozart (Kovac and Hardy both models of Classical poise and balanced interplay here), and in the Mendelssohn, where he supplied the architectural strength from the keyboard that allowed both string players to indulge the drama and expansive warmth of the piece.

-- Joe Banno

By Anne Midgette  |  January 21, 2010; 11:46 PM ET
Categories:  local reviews  
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