in performance: chamber music festival of Lexington, mainstage concert I

zach brock. photo by jimmy katz.

The following is a quick check list of items normally not associated with a chamber music concert:

Amplifiers. Pedal effects. A drum kit. Oh, yes – and red shoelaces.

Actually, all of the above were accoutrements to perhaps an even more unlikely component within tonight’s first of three mainstage concerts at the Pam Miller Downtown Arts Center making up this year’s Chamber Music Festival of Lexington – jazz. Yet these trappings were quite unobtrusive (with the possible exception of the shoelaces) within a very engaging set by Triptych, a jazz trio that boasted artist-in-residence (and Lexington native) Zach Brock on violin, composer-in-residence Matt Ulery on bass and Jon Deitmyer on drums.

Deviating somewhat from the announced program (Ulery’s “Nightshade” was jettisoned), the trio embraced a sound full of exquisite reserve, especially on Brock’s part. He and Ulery may have employed modest amplification (including Brock’s subtle use of pedals), but their combined sound possessed a light, organic tone that was alternately playful and pensive in the opening “Sweet Bitter,” the more chamber-esque coupling of violin and bowed bass that triggered a brief improvisation and the contours of Ulery’s bass work that shifted from an assured rhythmic bounce to strides of boppish cool during “Kentucky Animal Orchestra.”

The rest of the program was impressively diverse. Violinist and festival artistic director Nathan Cole came out discreetly swinging on Maurice Ravel’s Sonata No. 2 in G Major, displaying often astonishing dynamics alongside pianist Alessio Bax. Speaking of dynamics, ensemble-in-residence Windsync provided Miguel del Aguila’s Quintet No. 2 for Winds with a rich, varied vocabulary of animated runs and puncture-liked percussion formed on the mouthpieces of their instruments. At times, even a group vocal hum was added to accent the soundscape.

The concert’s second half was devoted exclusively to Franz Schubert’s String Quartet #13 in A Minor, Opus 29 (“Rosamunde”) that perhaps played more to crowd expectations. While violinist Akiko Tarumoto nicely led several, folk-like passages, the composition and its performance relied on remarkable ensemble execution and an ability to color it with grace, delicacy and effortless drama.


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