in: Reviews

March 14, 2017

Music and Fraternité


An “Unstuffy, Unpredictable” Mistral duo made its way into WGBH’s elegant Fraser Studio Friday for a  Massivemuse, which seeks to bring younger audiences to live classical music. Harpist Ina Zdorovetchi and flutist (and Mistral founder) Julie Scolnik expanded on the Groupmuse BYOB house-concert format to give us a relaxed, informative, sometimes exhilarating salon-styled extravaganza.

Scolnik’s flute sang the melody and Zdorovetchi’s harp rapidly crocheted delicate strands for Jacques Ibert’s Entr’acte, a fast-paced dreamlike lullaby carved from rapid successions of modal flute notes and rhythmic harp thrumming until it ended with intoxicating flair. Bach’s Sonata in C Major for flute and keyboard followed in arrangement for harp. Its three movements proved a congenial tour de force of flute fireworks with dexterous harp solo concluding.

Scolnik mentioned that the Fraser Studio, a room designed for recording, presents performance difficulties because it has no natural reverberation. She asked the house to turn up the piped-in electronic reverb a bit, to create a more “live” vibe. So somehow a shaded floor lamp beside the duo, and the warm palaver, made us feel like invitees to a comfortable living room, where stories unfolded from the two instruments.

Ina Zdorovechi, harp (Maria Fonsesca photo)

A section called “encore gems” brought us a melancholy Donizetti work written originally for oboe and piano, along with Ravel’s seductive Pièce en forme de Habanera and Fauré’s whimsical Morceau de Concours. Each gem induced serenity yet exposed a beautiful facet of its own.

After Zdorovetchi spoke about her instrument, she gave a stunning rendition of Fauré’s Impromptu, replete with sparkling glissandi and haunting dissonance. It was a while before we could finally exhale.

Astor Piazzolla’s Histoire du Tango documents the dance’s development, each movement named after an era in that history: Bordello, 1900; Cafe, 1930; Night Club, 1960; Modern-Day Concert. Evolving from an Argentinian parlor dance into romantic expression, it picks up pace in the mid-20th century before eventually embracing modernism. The last movement incorporates advanced harmonies and extended techniques, ending with a flutter tongue flourish.

Consummate musicianship and friendly banter combined to provide high satisfactions for both casual listener and aficionado.

Stephanie Susberich is a soprano and composer living in Somerville. She writes about music on her blog,

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