It is both accurate and a pleasure to note that the students in this 2014 edition of the 50-year-old Sarasota Music Festival once again frequently outshine the faculty in their performance energy and accuracy.
An outstanding example of this welcome state of affairs was heard in the performance of the first movement of Francis Poulenc’s Trio for oboe, bassoon and piano which led off the program, broadcast live on our public radio stations for the first time.
Leanna Lam, piano, Katherine Hart, oboe, and Pearson Altizer, bassoon, captured perfectly the quirky comic gestures and French boulevard humor of the piece, always perfectly in tune and rhythmically solid.
Joseph Haydn’s Opus 76 string quartets are icons of the form and served as the basis of Beethoven’s output in this format some years later. The D-Major quartet, the fifth in the series, is miraculous in its mellow lyricism, given ample emphasis by students Brendon Elliott and Samuel Weiser, violins, Liu Zhangjuan, viola and Youna Choi, cello.
Enter the faculty to perform Mikhail Glinka’s “Trio Pathetique,” a somewhat academic composition that is showy but short on substance. Its glittering piano part, played with crystalline confidence by Susan Starr, and joined by Franklin Cohen, clarinet and William Winstead, bassoon, dominated the rather empty texture of the piece.
The first part of the program concluded with an insecure rendition of the Sextet from the Richard Strauss opera, “Capriccio” by a mixed ensemble of students and faculty: Joseph Silverstein and Maeve Feinberg, violin; James Dunham and Jacob Shack, viola; Steven Doane and Ben Manis, cello.
A pre-recorded interview with former student and current faculty member Noah Bendix-Balgley, violin, was presented on air during intermission. Despite the inevitable noise level generated by the audience, his renditions of music by Bach and Bloch, with a bit of Klezmer, were impressive.
A superb ensemble of students — Noah Kay, oboe, Kenta Akaogi, clarinet, Ryan Murphy, violin, Yejin Han, viola, Asa Maynard, bass — presented the first movement of Sergei Prokofiev’s gripping Opus 39 Quintet with typical bravura and notable skill.
The evening closed with a rather subdued performance of the popular Horn Trio in E-flat Major by Johannes Brahms with faculty members Gregory Hustis, horn, Alexander Kerr, violin, and Robert Levin, piano. Plagued by some pitch problems and the difficulty of balance among such diverse instruments, this was, at times, a shaky end to an otherwise inspiring concert.
The festival continues through June 21.
FESTIVAL CONCERT 1. Sarasota Music Festival. Reviewed June 6 at the Sarasota Opera House. Festival concerts continue through June 21. 953-3434; SarasotaOrchestra.org.