Bulgarian Virtuosi in Concert
Sunday April 29
Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall
The Bulgarian Virtuosi, a string orchestra comprised of young musicians who forcefully present music from their native country and bring new works to the public's attention, offered a program that included works by two Bulgarian natives and a pair of freshly minted pieces. The American composer Rick Sowash's Concerto for Cello with Strings and Clarinet received its World Premiere, as did Alexandra Karastoyanova-Hermentin's Mahagoni, Concerto for Violin and String Orchestra.
Krassimir Kyurkchiyski's 2 Pieces for Strings, written in 1936, clearly shows the author's debt to his principal teacher, Dimitri Shostakovich. A pleasant work, it does not, however, advance the free tonality or capture the rhythmic vitality of his mentor. Under the baton of Misic Director and Conductor Stefan Linev, the BV performed this piece, and that of another 20th century Bulgarian composer, Marin Goleminov, with conviction. The intonation of the double bass and two celli was accurate throughout the concert. The upper strings, however, experienced some pitch problems.
Cellist Kalin Ivanov assumed control of Sowash's piece from the opening bar with a performance that was at turns both forceful and lyrical. Nothing in this work, which also featured clarinetist Todd Brunel, presented a severe challenge to Ivanov's technique. A conservative composition, this concerto does not explore new territory, and it fails to exploit the clarinet effectively. These limitations aside, it is a well crafted piece that listeners who shy away from "modern" music will appreciate.
Karastoyanova-Hermentin's Mahagoni was the central piece on this program. A restless, even disturbing post-Serial work that combines jarring chromaticism and an absence of established pulse- until the last moment, when the entire ensemble stomps out a figure with its feet- Mahagoni is essentially a concerto for orchestra, with divisi writing that allows each member of the orchestra to articulate important material. David Bowlin was the superb soloist who, along with conductor Linev, led the Bulgarian Virtuosi through a series of fragments that revealed both the serene and tumultuous. Mahagoni shifts between interior and exterior scapes from one moment to the next. It deserves another listen.
A large crowd enthusiastically received all of the music that the Bulgarian Virtuosi delivered.
Reviewed by Gary Eskow (http://www.garyeskow.com/). Mr. Eskow is the New York editor of Mix Magazine and is also a well-regarded composer of chamber music.