Timothy Durkovic, Music Director at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Arcadia, began a winter music series called Music in Sacred Spaces several years ago, in 2002. Over time, Durkovic has brought some of Southern California’s finest classical musicians to the church chapel, including the Calder Quartet, pianist Kevin Fitz-Gerald, L A Opera tenor Jonathan Mack and soprano Carol Stephenson, among others. During the early years the attendance was good, but modest. This season, though, it seems to have grown in popularity as almost all the seats in the chapel were filled—and filled with enthusiastic auditors.
The reason for the enthusiasm was apparent. Los Angeles Philharmonic violinist and concertmaster, Martin Chalifour, in his program of three selections with Durkovic as accompanist, presented a lively grouping of both modernist and old-fashioned music, each delivered with panache.
Chalifour, playing on the 1729 Stradivarius that he has on loan from the Philharmonic’s music art collection, played Igor Stravinsky’s “Suite Italienne” with bold strokes and extraordinary finger work. The “Italienne” is an arrangement by Stravinsky of music from the ballet “Pulcinella”, composed in 1934. Stravinsky used as his inspiration music from the Italian baroque, most notably the music of Pergolesi.
Closing the first portion of the program, Chalifour performed Johannes Brahms’ Sonata in G-major. The work, composed in 1878 and 1879 is considered one of the Romantic era’s finest examples. It is said that the second movement, adagio, was a Brahms’ tribute to his godson, Felix Schumann, the son of Clara and Robert Schumann, who died at age 24. Chalifour and Durkovic brought both the personal tragedy to bear in their interpretation, but also the moving poetry of the Romantic era music as well. Chalifour maintained solid and gorgeous tone.
The final number on the program, Sergei Prokofiev’s Sonata in D-major, returned the program to lively, modern music. The piece, written in 1942 and 1943 was written for flute. But, at the request of Russian violinist David Oistrakh, Prokofiev transcribed the piece for violin. Chalifour played the music, written in the classical style, with dramatic intensity ending with flourish. Durkovic followed Chalifour’s lead with a seamless collaboration.
A standing ovation was accorded. Music in Sacred Spaces continues Sunday, Nov. 22 at 3 p.m. with Brian Head, guitar and Paula Fehrenbach, cello.
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