Sunday, June 29, 2008

Jennifer Curtis at Gate Wood

Jennifer Curtis appears regularly as featured soloist and as collaborative chamber musician across the United States and abroad. Also an accomplished composer, her compositions have been performed in New York City, at The Spoleto Festival among others. She received her Master of Music degree from the Juilliard School, where she was a student of Robert Mann. Jennifer was also recently presented by Artists International in her New York City Carnegie Hall recital debut. The New York Times has recognized Ms. Curtis' talent in print as well.

So a lucky few gathered at Gate Wood in Chapel Hill this Sunday to hear a performance by this fine artist in a house concert setting. Gate Wood has a beautiful large space perfect acoustically for hosting an event like this. The program was varied and each performance quite spirited. Ms. Curtis introduced each piece with some explaination of her connection to it. The program was three pieces: Bach Partita No. 2, Caprice #10 by Paganini, and a composition of her own titled "Cave Paintings."

The Bach Partita was exuberantly played start to finish. The piece is of six movements: Allegro, Allemande, Courant, Saraband, Gigue, and the lovely Ciaccone. The violin itself was a joy to hear. It is an 18th century Panormo from Cremona, Italy (cradle of great violin making). The match of the instrument and the player is evident here as the emotion and tone of Ms. Curtis matched the sound the violin was making perfectly. A lengthy piece it moved along effortlessly from the bow of Ms. Curtis. The Saraband and the Chiaconne were particularly memorable. The performance started beautifully but became more focused as this piece moved along.

The Paganini Caprice was introduced as something all violinists play at every competition and audition. Ms. Curtis reminded us they not only reinforced technique but were good music as well. Good music indeed. Short and sweet but raucusly rowdy this frothy confection was played with brio.

The last piece was the most interesting in some ways. She played her own composition which she called "Cave Paintings." She said it was a result of her not going to conservatory immediately and persuing her love of playing Appalachain Bluegrass, Latin Music and the Blues among others. The piece began with an introduction that was an homage to the great Fritz Kreisler, but diverged from there to pizzicato sections sounding like spanish guitar and smooth beautiful, slow double stops reminiscent of Appalachia. A wonderful program by a talented artist.

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