32 Concerts in 32 Days: Day 32, Breaking the Record

by delarue

Bargemusic’s latest scheme to entice concertgoers is a clever if somewhat obvious one: give them a taste of future programming with free, casual afternoon performances of some of that material. This afternoon’s show began with the venue’s musical director, violinist Mark Peskanov, playing a memorably brief handful of solo Bach pieces. He may jokingly characterize himself as the boat’s handyman, but he’s a pyrotechnic player. He gave the Adagio and Fugue from the G Minor Sonata for Solo Violin a raw, intense edge, and then followed with a wildfire romp through two passages from another solo violin work – the Sonata in E, maybe? E flat? Without a program, and a memory like a warehouse with no room to spare, it’s hard to remember which it was. Peskanov said the bright, optimistic work was “like Bach creating the universe.” It was also like Bach discovering dancing: underneath all the perfectly precise metrics and pinballing off one string to another, there’s a bouncy, carefree country fiddle tune, and Peskanov worked up a sweat bringing that to the surface.

Pianist Olga Vinokur, another regular performer here, followed with equally powerful, precise takes on a couple of Russian Romantic favorites. She started with four segments of Tschaikovsky’s Seasons: unlike Vivaldi, there’s one for each month. In her hands, April held out hope; May looked forward to summer; August was a firestorm of intense, staccato riffage; and December had the feel of a sentimental overture, a fond postlude. Then she tackled five of Rachmaninoff’s Musical Moments, which she’ll be playing here on Oct 13 at 8 PM (tix are a steep $35, but she’s worth it). The gorgeous, Chopinesque plaintiveness of the first two didn’t hint at the fiendishly difficult downward cascades and torrents of the next two, but she had them in her fingers confidently, playing from memory. And then she encored with another that reverted to the feel she began with.

There was a brief Q&A afterward. Vinokur is Russian by birth; she earned her doctorate at Manhattan School of Music; she’s very personable and approachable. She’s also not phased by occasional sway of the boat when the ferries come in at the landing just a couple hundred feet away: it would be fair to say that this performance might have been the most rocking afternoon Bargemusic has ever experienced. It’s also worth mentioning that since most Bargemusic concerts take place at night (as a romantic date spot, this place is absolutely unsurpassed), the ferries come and go less frequently and the waves are less jarring than simply an enhancement of the kind of music that you can get absolutely lost in.