The superb violist Patricia McCarty found an excellent partner in pianist Cary Lewis for a duo recital at the historic Methodist Church in Saranac on November 16. Such accomplished and inspired playing – both individual and ensemble – is not an everyday occurrence in our neck o’ the woods. More than a particular in-the-moment chemistry between McCarty and Lewis, they clearly had spent a good deal of time in thoughtful rehearsal to arrive at a performance in which their interpretations were so transparent and well paced.
A meaty program opened with Sonata No. 3 in G Minor of J. S. Bach. Next came the charming Romance in F, Op. 50 of Beethoven followed by Sonata in E-flat, Op. 120, No. 2 of Brahms. After intermission the second half was given entirely to an exciting and beautiful contemporary work by American composer David Avshalomov: Torn Curtain, Suite for Viola and Pianoforte (1990-91). Torn Curtain was inspired by the disintegration of the Iron Curtain in Eastern Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall, and features themes and rhythms redolent of Russian, Roumanian, Czech, and Hungarian folk music. The audience begged for an encore and Ms. McCarty complied with a meltingly gorgeous rendering of Ravel’s Pièce en forme de Habanera. In every respect this Sunday afternoon concert was a deeply satisfying musical experience.