- IVCI Laureate Svetlin Roussev
Series get-togethers are becoming more common these days as a way to conserve expenditures without compromising musical excellence. This time the IVCI Laureate Series joined with the Ronen Chamber Ensemble, led by David Bellman and Ingrid Fischer-Bellman--both ISO players. The Laureate Series features IVCI laureates -- those among the six finalists of the quadrennial competition, past and present (currently 2010, the next one, 2014).
Svetlin Roussev was the fourth-place laureate in the 1998 competition, but I had felt he deserved to be silver medalist just behind gold medalist Judith Ingolfsson in that year. He displayed his talents best in three solo-violin pieces by Bulgarian Petar Hristoskov (1917-2006), a fringe composer who had only one recording to his credit before 2000.
Hristoskov's "Daychovo Hora" and "Rachenitsa" from Caprices for Solo Violin are true display pieces showing off rapid staccato and chromatic sequences while one "Rhapsody" from Three Rhapsodies for Solo Violin puts the emphasis on "sul ponticello" (bowing near or on the bridge, giving a sinister tone) and rapid double stops on fourths. Roussev managed these devices with ease and self assurance.
Preceding the solos, we heard a brand new piece debuting here by James Beckel, the ISO's principal trombonist and composer of many successful works over the years. He calls it Dialogues for Clarinet, Violin, Piano, Bass and Percussion, featuring clarinetist David Bellman, violinist Roussov, pianist Chih-Yi Chen, bassist Ju-Fang Liu and percussionist Jack Brennan.
Beckel states he wrote the piece to reflect the myriad emotions befalling the ISO during last summer and early fall's contract-negotiations brouhaha, the subsequent players' lockout and the renewal of a contract. His four movements' titles are: "A sense of Urgency," "End of an Era," "Can't we Agree to Disagree?" and "Homage to Music." While the musical moods reflect those stressful times, they could as readily indicate any stressful period about anything and its subsequent resolution.
Our local composer vividly instruments these moods with Brennan jumping from timpani to marimba to snare drum, adding a few more exotic percussion sounds along the way. What starts as a jumble of lines and off-rhythms becomes at the end some tonal, tuneful harmony and resignation that the "issue" is at least somewhat resolved. From beginning to end, all our performers seemed well rehearsed.
The foregoing, occupying uncharted territory, were bookended by chamber chestnuts: Brahms' Sonata for Clarinet and Piano, Op. 120, No. 2 featuring Bellman and pianist Gregory Martin, and Schubert's all-too-familiar "Trout" Quintet in A, D. 667 for the unusual combination of violin, viola, cello, double bass and piano. The players were, respectively: Roussev, Nancy Agres, Fischer-Bellman, Liu and Chen. While our Brahms duo emphasized his autumnal element, our Schubert quintet group scanned the composer's plethora of gorgeous melodies with precision and dispatch. April 23; Indiana History Center