May 28 The chamber-music festival kicks off with a performance by violinist Giora Schmidt (right), cellist Joshua Roman and pianist …
Review: Giora Schmidt at the Scotia Festival of MusicBy Trevor J. Adams | Jun 6, 2012
Tags: chamber music, classical, Giora Schmidt, Megan Couture, Scotia Festival of Music, violin
Each year, the Scotia Festival of Music showcases classical and chamber music. I attended the festival for the first time on Sunday night and had the pleasure of seeing violinist Giora Schmidt and pianist John Novacek perform at the Dunn Theatre.
They played to a nearly-full theatre, with a crowd full mostly of older fans and younger music students; everyone in the audience seemed really excited.
The recital was split into two parts; the first was a duet between Schmidt and Novacek and the second was a solo \by Schmidt. Both parts were masterful, impressive and entertaining for very different reasons. Watching the two perform The F-A-E Sonata and Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 1 in G Major, Op. 78 was like listening to (and watching) a lively conversation in another language. It’s beautiful to listen to, even if I don’t understand the technical complexity of it all.
The F-A-E Sonata was cheerful and bouncy, while the Sonata for Violin and Piano was a delightful portrait of a relaxed summer. Watching the two duet was lovely (Sometimes it was tough to pick who to focus on!) Novacek is mighty and a thrill to watch, his mop of hair flying back and forth as he played with both ferocious intensity and gentle softness. While Schmidt is dapper, sharp and wickedly talented, and makes the most difficult of movements look like a breeze.
The second half was Schmidt’s opportunity to shine. He performed Piano Sonata in B minor by Franz Liszt, transcribed for violin by Noam Sivan. Before he began, Schmidt laughed in recalling an email with the sonata attached in which Sivan wrote “I hope you can try…” Making its Canadian debut, Schmidt considered this project the most difficult he has ever undertaken. In addition to the complexities and technical difficulties of performing a piano piece on the violin, the performer must also have an intricate knowledge of the piano.
Setting himself up with an iPad for sheet music and a pedal to turn the pages (A nod to Chamber music for the 21st century), Schmidt laid into the piece, playing straight through for a mind-boggling 35 pages. He stopped only to strip away the split fibers of his bow, not speaking, not hesitating and showing some of the most masterful performing I’ve ever seen. The place was dead silent for a moment at the end. Once he finished, the audience caught their breath and took to their feet, clapping and stamping for a several minute, well-deserved standing ovation. Schmidt was pleased and humbled, returning several times to show his thanks.
I would seriously recommend the Scotia Festival of Music for anyone that’s a fan of music. Any kind of music at all. You don’t need to be a musical genius to appreciate the genuine talent of these performers. The festival continues through June 8.