This week’s installment of the KSO’s Concertmaster Series of chamber music—Gabriel Lefkowitz and Friends—showed off just how important friends are, both onstage and in the audience. One of the works programmed offered the largest ensemble yet for the series—the “Winter” concerto (Concerto No. 4 in F minor, Op. 8) from Antonio Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons—using an octet of strings plus basso continuo along with the solo violin of Mr. Lefkowitz.
The concerto, performed in the intimate setting of the Knoxville Museum of Art and with the numbers of players close to what one might have heard in the 18th Century, was thoroughly engrossing and revealed much of the delicious and entertaining string detail that is inevitably lost in larger halls with larger ensembles.
The second half of the program consisted of a a marvelously satisfying performance of Tchaikovsky’s String Sextet in D Minor, titled Souvenir de Florence. This intriguing work flies in the face of both the title’s reference to Florence (which is mostly non-existent) and to its minor key (the work is nothing if not upbeat and friendly). The sextet consisted of Lefkowitz and Gordon Tsai, violins; Kathryn Gawne and Eunsoon Corliss, violas; and Andy Bryenton and Theodore Kartal, cellos.
It was announced that for space reasons, the opening violin and piano arrangement of Five Pieces from Cinderella by Prokofiev was to be performed on an upright piano, albeit an excellent one. Unfortunately, the translucent clarity and presence that one expects from a piano in such a piece was absent. The pianist was Lefkowitz’s regular duo partner, Kevin Class.
Apparently, the circle of audience friends for the Concertmaster Series has grown as well, much to the delight of everyone; the Thursday night crowd seem to fill most of the seats in the hall at the KMA. However, this large attendance revealed an issue that the KSO will have to address in the future for the sake of all those new friends—performer visibility. Without a riser for the performers, most of the audience simply cannot see the musicians situated on a flat floor. I was seated on the third row and had to constantly jockey for position for even a partial glimpse of one performer. An unobstructed view of the full ensembles was completely impossible.