Review: Music Northwest, masterpieces from Eastern Europe

By: Gigi Yellen

Performing as the ensemble Europa, the trio of pianist Jane Harty, violinist Leonid Keylin and cellist Mara Finkelstein today played the most traditional of this season’s Music Northwest programs (www.musicnorthwest.org).. This makes the second time this week I’ve seen these string players in concert with a series artistic director, a visionary woman, at the keyboard. Jane Harty directs Music Northwest; Keylin and Finkelstein performed earlier in the week with pianist Mina Miller, artistic director of Music of Remembrance.

Hardy and colleagues offered a solidly Romantic program, rooted in the 19th century, with two stretches into the early 20th, well suited to the Russian-trained fiddlers. Keylin took on the meatiest piece, Prokofiev’s violin sonata in f minor. Finkelstein dug into Rachmaninoff, the Andante from the g minor cello sonata. The Hungarian Rhapsody for cello and piano by David Popper (1843-1914) celebrated the influence of Liszt. And there was sweet Dvorak, for an opener (cello/piano arrangement of one of the “From the Bohemian Woods” pieces), and for a closer (the “Dumky” trio, always a crowd pleaser). These were relaxed performances, among friends (Finkelstein visited in the lobby before the concert; a woman with a handheld video camera was recording all the music).

The performance was sponsored by the Tonkonogui Fund for Chamber Music, named for the Seattle Symphony cellist David Tonkonogui (1958-2003). “He is fondly remembered by the members of Europa as an outstanding performer and teacher and a dear friend,” stated the program. Donations were (are) being sought by Music Northwest for a Tonkonogui Fund for Chamber Music. Part of this fund helps low-income students to attend Music Northwest’s Chamber Music Camps. David was a gracious and talented performer and teacher whose name and work also live on through a Music of Remembrance annual award to a young performer.

The Europa concert brought out about 80 people, or about two-thirds of the intimate Olympic Recital Hall. This space is just a jewel—a little proscenium stage and beautiful acoustics, tucked away on the campus of a community college in West Seattle: worth seeking out.

2nd performance added

Nov. 22, 8 pm

Lagerquist Hall, Pacific Lutheran University

Call PLU Box Office at (253) 535-7787 for tickets for this performance

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