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Brahms' String Quintet No 1 in F is another infrequently heard work. A sunny, playful score awash in Brahmsian melodies, the final movement features complex, rapid fire fugal writing that was played with virtuoso zeal by Buswell, Agostini, Dunham, Westphal and Greensmith. The sheer intensity and drive of this performance were riveting. Playing an unusually large viola, Westphal produced streams of dark, perfectly focused tone that soared through the opera house. The cheers and enthusiasm this performance engendered were well deserved.

Student participant concerts at Holley Hall on 12 and 14 June 2008 produced a plethora of wonderful music making. A chamber version of Ravel's Mother Goose Suite was an utter delight, sensuous yet wonderfully intimate. The impressionistic languor of Charles Martin Loeffler's L'Etang ('The Pond') was rendered with a kaleidoscopic array of colors and hues by pianist Pauline Yang, oboist Kristin Kall and the spectacular violist Luke Fleming (from New York's Juilliard School). Pianist Jun-Young Cho (from Juilliard) exhibited high voltage, competition-winning playing in a brilliant, fiery version of the Rondo alla Zingarese from Brahms' Piano Quartet in G minor, Op 25. Yang's voluminous, high powered pianism ignited the Allegro from Brahms' Piano Trio No 2 in C, Op 87. Stunning, brilliantly executed performances of movements from Bartók's String Quartets Nos 1 and 2 spotlighted the impressive string contingent. Pianist Henry Kramer's large scale, powerhouse thunder brought the Allegro ma non troppo from Schumann's Piano Quintet in E flat to vivid life. A welcome revival of Spohr's Grand Nonetto, Op 31 was elegantly spun. One only hopes there will be a place for all of these talented young musicians on America's musical horizon. For audiences, faculty and student participants alike, the Sarasota Music Festival proved a memorable experience.

Copyright © 19 June 2008 Lawrence Budmen, Miami Beach, USA


The final weekend of the Sarasota Music Festival features an Artists Showcase concert at Holley Hall on 19 June 2008 with flautist Leone Buyse in works by Debussy and Edgar Varese, cellist Ronald Leonard playing Beethoven's Sonata in C, pianist John Perry in Brahms' Intermezzi and violinist James Buswell in Eugene Ysaye's Obsession Sonata.

A 20 June chamber concert at the Sarasota Opera House brings a performance of Messiaen's Quartet for the End of Time and works by Puccini and Beethoven.

The Festival ends on 21 June with an orchestral concert led by Dante Anzolini who recently made a début at New York's Metropolitan Opera. Bizet's Symphony in C shares the bill with the Florida première of Richard Sortomme's 2007 Rhapsody for Viola and Orchestra with Robert Vernon (principal violist of the Cleveland Orchestra) as soloist. John Perry is the soloist in Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No 2 in C minor. There's more information on the Florida West Coast Symphony website. You can also read Lawrence Budmen's account of the 2007 Sarasota Music Festival here at M&V.

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