International Master Class Students Demonstrate Heartbreaking Poetry, Passion and Beauty.

PolandPoland  Gniezno Students Concert: Sara Aasen (coloratura soprano); Iwona Pręntka, Christiane Schlüter, Marisa Amman (sopranos); Mateusz Drozda (basso); Barbara Malcolm, Anna Środecka, Anya Muston (violins); Dominikus Burghart and Szymon Musioł (pianos). Gniezno (Poland), Gniezno Music School, 5.9.2011 (LV)

Arias by Delibes, Mozart, Verdi and Massenet
Music for violin by Mozart, Beethoven and Chausson

You had to be very lucky to sit in on a concert like this. On one magical late afternoon, the International Master Class students at the Spaces of Music chamber music festival, led by Jagna Sokorska-Kwika and Yair Kless, gave a demonstration of heartbreaking poetry, passion and beauty.

It was hard not to fall in love with the obvious charms and endowments, vocally speaking, that the singers at this level had attained. Iwona Pręntka trilling through the insane ecstasies of the bell song from Lakmé, Mateusz Drozda giving Osmin’s Aria from Die Entführung aus dem Serail a tremendous run for its money, or Sara Aasen hitting all the high notes, along with some of the low, in one of Mozart’s sadistic Queen of the Night arias from The Magic Flute, represented some stunning professional artistry.

The three brave instrumentalists who followed, all violinists, were members of the master class of Yair Kless, who never liked a movement or a sound that was not natural, comfortable and free of stress. His influence could be seen throughout the Festival in the playing of his outstanding pupil Janusz Wawrowski. It’s an approach to making music that is implicitly collaborative between the musicians and the audience as well, and can reduce injury and even the effects of advancing age as well. In every move and sound they made, all three women displayed an understanding of their mentor’s beliefs and style.

Barbara Malcolm was a perfect example of what Mozart might have been like as a young girl, sort of like a violinist’s version of the trousers role of Cherubino in The Marriage of Figaro. Brushing aside an initial patch of nervousness, she stretched her body high, as if on her toes, and played the first movement of Mozart’s E Minor violin sonata with such simplicity that the music practically fell into her arms, intoxicated with sadness and love, as Mozart himself so often was.

Anna Środecka was someone Mozart might have fallen in love with, and written a few concertos for. Her playing of the first two movements of Beethoven’s Sonata Op. 30, No. 3 showed a willingness to be seduced by music’s beauty while keeping command of the structure, the notes and the drama. That she has a sense of humor to match made her dangerous indeed.

And violinist Anya Muston was someone Mozart might have treasured as a colleague. She tamed Chausson’s Poème, one of the most difficult pieces in the showpiece repertoire, like it was a kitten. She claimed afterwards that she was nervous, but it sounded more like Chausson was on the hot seat – and liking it a lot. For now,Manchester’s Hallé Orchestra has Ms. Muston; she obviously has an immense future.

It was almost a relief to hear Christiane Schlüter accomplish the nearly impossible task of making Verdi’s Leonora in La Forza del Destino a complete human being rather than just a soprano. More than merely a smile or a glance, it was identification at a deep level. And when Marisa Amman assumed the visage and personality of Charlotte in Massenet’s Werther, transforming herself into her role with exquisitely lyrical beauty and expressive sympathy, the master class concert had made its point.

Laurence Vittes