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National Philharmonic with Victoria Chiang and Nurit Bar-Joseph at Strathmore
DC Metro Theater Arts
January 7, 2013
By Francine Schwartz

On Sunday, January 6, 2013, The Music Center at Strathmore presented the second of two concerts by the National Philharmonic, conducted by Piotr Gajewski. Featured were violist Victoria Chiang and Concert Master/violinist Nurit Bar-Joseph. The first presentation was Concerto for Viola and Strings in G Major by Georg Philipp Telemann, one of the better known creations of this supernaturally productive composer Chiang played [Telemann’s Concerto for Viola and Strings] with passion, power, and beauty.

The second was the Symphony for String No. 9, in C Major by Felix Mendelssohn, which required a major reconfiguration of the performers to incorporate a large viola section. The playing was sublime, but although these two well-known compositions were well-performed, the final piece, Sinfonia Concertante in E Flat by Mozart, often called a “gem of the viola repertoire,” was performed with great expressive force, requiring a rapport between the two women which was more remarkable because apparently they had only recently met face to face.

This was an outstanding tour de force, with a lengthy duet between Bar-Joseph’s violin and Chiang’s viola, with the viola’s part played a half-tone lower than her partner’s violin to achieve an interesting and vibrant sonority paralleling the solo violin. The audience and I were mesmerized by this exceptional virtuosity and offered a standing ovation to the performers, who themselves seemed highly pleased with the quality of their performance.

There were many attentive children in the audience, undoubtedly some aspiring one day to play as well themselves. This is a tribute to the generous donors who have underwritten a policy to allow all children to attend free at any time.

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