A full PepsiCo Recital Hall at TCU welcomed the return Thursday evening of the Mimir Chamber Music festival for its 18th season.
Many feared the festival might come to an end when violinist and Artistic Director Curt Thompson took a job in Melbourne, Australia. In fact, Mimir is more vibrant than ever. Thompson’s move expanded the festival to an annual week in Melbourne.
The festival retains its educational basis and a format of two tracks of concerts. One is a series by the distinguished faculty; the other features the emerging artists who come to study with them.
The distinguished artists certainly deserve that description. Violinist Frank Huang is the recently appointed concertmaster of the New York Philharmonic. Violinist Stephen Rose is principal second violin of the Cleveland Orchestra. Cellist Brant Taylor’s resume lists major concerto appearances and playing in the band Pink Martini. Violist Joan DerHovsepian is the associate principal with the Houston Symphony. Pianist Alessio Bax, a local favorite, turned a win in the Leeds International Piano Competition into a major career.
Two delightful works by Franz Schubert opened the concert Thursday night, but, in effect, they also opened Mimir as a whole.
The name of Franz Schubert’s Grand Duo in A Major, D. 574 might lead you to expect something, well, grand. Instead, the piece, beautifully played by Huang and Bax, is a much lighter and tuneful salon piece.
Schubert’s Quartet in A minor, D. 804, which followed, adds some serious overtones to Schubert’s lyrical writing. Huang, Thompson, DerHovsepian and Taylor brought out the many moods of the piece, playing with ideal intonation and ensemble.
Anton Arensky, a student of Rimsky-Korsakov and teacher of Rachmaninoff, produced music of great drama. His Piano Trio in D minor, Op. 32, is an excellent introduction to the composer’s many virtuosic and romantic works. Rose, Taylor and especially Bax gave it a suitably intense performance. This piece can sound like a piano concerto, but Bax kept his demanding part in context so this performance remained the trio the composer intended.
Mimir Chamber Music Festival
7:30 p.m. Friday — Guest artists concert, PepsiCo Recital Hall
2 p.m. Sunday — Guest artists concert, Piano Pavilion at the Kimbell
7:30 Monday — Emerging artists, PepsiCo Recital Hall
7:30 Tuesday — Guest artists, PepsiCo Recital Hall
7:30 p.m. Thursday — Emerging artists, PepsiCo Recital Hall
7:30 p.m. Friday — Guest artists, PepsiCo Recital Hall
Guest artists concerts $30; emerging artists $10
Three master classes are open to the public at 10:30 .m. Friday, Saturday and Monday. Free