Posted: 07/03/2008


The 2007 Newport Music Festival: Connoisseur’s Collection


by Elaine Hegwood Bowen

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The world-renowned Newport Music Festival is now available to all, in a 10-DVD set. The complete set of concerts runs 15 hours, with an additional six hours of bonus pieces that includes commentary by longtime festival director Dr. Mark P. Malkovich III.

The 2007 Newport Music Festival: Connoisseur’s Collection is “beautiful music in splendid settings performed by rising stars and superstars.”

Some of the artists and esteemed composers featured in the Connoisseur’s Collection include:

Adam Golka (Schubert, Chopin, Liszt, Medtner, Kapustin, Schumann, Rachmaninoff); Chopiniana (Chopin, Schubert); Lisztening Post (Liszt, Korngold); Colorado Quartet (Haydn, Beethoven, Dvorak,); Newport Music Festival POPS! (Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff); All in the Family (Mozart, Grieg, Hubay, Sarasate, Staub, Dubois, Holbrooke, Granados); Pieces Of Eight (Harold, Moscheles, Bruch, Mendelssohn, Villa-Lobos); Festival Gala (Schumann, Liszt); Connoisseur Concert (Hummel, Elgar, Wieniawski, The Dopplers, Litolff) and Best Of The Fest (Mozart, Chopin, Gottschalk, Bach, Schubert).

Of particular note, American pianist Adam Golka displays such discipline during his debut recital at the Breakers. He was so poised, as if possessed by the spirit of Schubert and Chopin. How does one master the classics at such an early age? He seemed to caress the ivories as if they were the delicate arms of his favorite suitor.

During the parts of No. 1 in G Minor Lenta - Mazurkas (Chopin), one could imagine a love story unfolding, as the audience seems to savor each note as much as Golka enjoyed playing the piece.

He also presented a fantastic Hungarian Rhapsody: The Carnival in Pest (Franz Liszt); during the allegro, an upbeat number, Golka’s fingers danced frantically around the keys. He seemed to extend his soul with his playing, and I could envision a ballerina galloping around, trying to keep pace. When the 20-year-old aspiring great reached the end of a movement, one could almost hear a pin drop. Golka played with such assured confidence that he had embarked on such a prodigious vocation and, indeed, is anchored in the midst of such great fellow musicians.

Pianist Jean Philippe Collard and cellist Henri Demarquette played together with such breathtaking syncopation on Chopiniana. During finale allegro, the interaction between the two was so fierce; it was as if the pair was challenging each other to “pump up the volume,” as each played both in concert and apart in the same movement.

Collard plays brilliantly on Scherzo in C# Minor, Op. 39. His entire body seems to be involved in his performance; his silver tresses bouncing back and forth, while trying to keep up with the tempo in his fingers. Collard even has to chuckle and do a “one-two” step while the audience gives him a spirited applause for job well done. At the end of his session, Collard leans back on the Yamaha, so sure, so cool and so proud.

In “All in the Family,” featuring Kevin Fitz-Gerald and Pedja Muzijevic at the piano, Allegretto Espressivo Alla Romanza was a soothing concerto. Conversely, Fantasie Brillante was a fierce violin duet, played by Livia Sohn, entering the mix at an accelerated pace. This is one performance for which Fitz-Gerald and Sohn received a standing ovation.

Both Sohn and Geoff Natall accompanied Fitz-Gerald on a remarkable rendition of Navarra Op. 33, Pablo Se Sarasate.

The 2007 Newport Music Festival: Connoisseur’s Collection is a grand compilation from one of the country’s premier venues for classical music. For nearly four decades, the renowned Newport Music Festival has featured concerts by world famous musicians and rising stars staged in the marble halls of the famed mansions of Newport, Rhode Island.

The festival is listed in the bestselling travel guide 1,000 Places to See Before You Die.

Beginning his 34th season as General Director, Dr. Malkovich researched and selected works from the 19th century chamber music, vocal repertoire and the Romantic-era piano literature, to create one of the most extraordinary festivals in the world. And now, those who couldn’t be there in person are privileged to enjoy the compositions in the comfort of their homes.

The 2007 Newport Music Festival: Connoisseur’s Collection is available from the Acorn Media Group.

Elaine Hegwood Bowen is an editor, a freelance writer and film critic in Chicago.

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