Lucid Assurance in Exhilarating Beethoven Chamber Music

United StatesUnited States Beethoven: Paul Hersh (piano), Stefan Milenkovich and Stefan Hersh (violins), Alan Iglitzin (viola), Bonnie Hampton (cello), Olympic Music Festival, Quilcene, WA, 27.7.2013 (BJ)

Beethoven: Violin Sonata in F major, Op. 24, “Spring”;
Piano Trio in D major, Op. 70 No. 1, “Ghost”;
String Quartet in C major, Op. 59 No. 3, “Rasumovsky”

This year’s Olympic Music Festival roster of artists is particularly rich in superb violinists, stars either already or in the making. In recent weeks we have witnessed dazzling performances by Ray Chen and Charles Weatherbee, and on this generous all-Beethoven program it was the turn of Stefan Milenkovich.

In the opening performance of the “Spring” Sonata, partnered with characteristic pearly limpidity of tone by Paul Hersh, the young Serbian Milenkovich mustered a powerful head of expressive steam. His articulation was impeccably crisp, and he demonstrated unusual precision of marksmanship in tackling Beethoven’s occasional isolated thrusts into the top register. Returning for the “Ghost” Trio—praiseworthily played complete with both first-movement repeats—he and Hersh were joined by Bonnie Hampton, whose cello sound was splendidly warm and solid.

After intermission came a wonderfully passionate and lucid account of the third “Rasumovsky” Quartet. Here, Ms. Hampton delivered her underpinning pizzicatos in the second movement with relish. Festival director Alan Iglitzin brought burnished tone to the darker passages of the viola part, and launched the fugal finale with panache. And Milenkovich’s authoritative way with the first-violin part was matched by second violinist Stefan Hersh, who delighted the audience not only with his assured playing but also with the sheer pleasure registered by his face and demeanor at every turn of this exhilarating music.

Bernard Jacobson