(first published in the Cincinnati Enquirer April 22, 2013)
Pianist Leon Fleisher made his debut on the Linton Music Series Sunday afternoon at First Unitarian Church in Avondale.
For the capacity crowd, it was long overdue, but they were rewarded with one of the juiciest performances of Brahms’ Piano Quintet in F Minor imaginable. Joining Fleisher (magisterial at the keyboard) were violinist Jaime Laredo and cellist Sharon Robinson, co-artistic directors of Linton, violinist Bella Hristova and violist Ida Kavafian. Each projected warmth and expression, and handed off passages to one another like star athletes. There were gentle moments (the lullaby-like slow movement) as well as exhilarating ones, but by the time the five reached the work’s gutsy end, the audience was on its feet for a prolonged ovation.
The Brahms was not the only highlight on this stellar program. Violinist Hristova wowed her listeners on the first half with a virtuosic performance of “The Red Violin Caprices” by American composer John Corigliano. Posed on high-high heels, Hristova tossed off runs, arpeggios, double stops, stratospheric high notes and every violinistic trick in the book, eliciting bravas from the crowd and her fellow performers.
The balance of the program consisted of Dvorak’s delicious Miniatures for Two Violins and Viola, Op. 75a, and Beethoven’s Serenade for Violin, Viola and Cello in D Major, Op. 8. Laredo, Kavafian and Robinson did the honors in the Beethoven, a charming six-movement work that featured an oh-so-serious Adagio twice interrupted by a perky scherzo, a colorful Allegretto alla Polacca (in Polish style) and a lovely theme and variations, all projected with style and precision by the three players.
Hristova joined Laredo and Kavafian in Dvorak’s Miniatures, which “starred” Laredo in one tasty solo after another, including an extremely moving Elegie to close the set.
The concert – not to miss -- repeats at 7:30 p.m. tonight (Monday) at Congregation Beth Adam, 10001 Loveland-Madeira Rd. in Loveland. Tickets ($30) at (513) 381-6868, or visit www.lintonmusic.org