Joseph Silverstein, former concert master of the Boston Symphony, music director of the Utah Symphony and beloved master teacher and performer with the Sarasota Music Festival, opened this past Sunday’s concert by students and alumni of The Curtis Institute of Music at the Historic Asolo Theater by telling us that, according to U.S. News and World Report, Curtis is “the most selective school in the country.”
Curtis, which is in Philadelphia, takes only about 160 students. They’re all on scholarship. And, said Silverstein, “Curtis graduates occupy principal stands of just about every orchestra in the world,” and that includes Abraham Feder, who graduated from Curtis in 2008 and is the principal cellist of the Sarasota Orchestra.
There’s also a “Sarasota Friends of Curtis,” and they presented Feder with current Curtis students Michelle Cann, pianist; Sonora Slocum, flutist; and Zoe Martin-Doike, violinist/violist, in a stunning concert that brought the audience to its feet for a well-deserved ovation.
These “students” are better than many of their mentors, playing with sophistication, understanding, style and technique to burn. They’re so good it’s scary.
The Weber G minor trio for flute, cello and piano started a little tentatively, but by the finale, Slocum, Feder and Cann were off and running with confidence and flair. Saint-Saens’ “Havanaise,” in the hands of Martin-Doike and Cann, was filled with youthful exuberance. And Slocum and Feder in the Villa-Lobos “Assobio a jato” (“The Jet Whistle”) were glowing.
Beethoven’s “Eyeglasses Duo” has a funnier name than the music itself, but Martin-Doike and Feder played it charmingly. Dutillieux’ Sonatina for flute and piano with Slocum and Cann had all the French flair of a Poulenc piece turned sideways.
The grand finale was the gorgeous Mendelssohn D minor trio with Martin-Doike, Feder and Cann zipping along at enthusiastic tempos that were fast but convincing in their beautiful articulation and energy.
If this is what the future holds in classical music, I wish I could live another century or two.