Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

August 4, 2015

Kinga Augustyn & Lynelle James

Sevenars Music Festival, The Academy, Worthington, MA
July 12-August 16, 2015
by Michael J. Moran

The Sevenars Music Festival has always been a family affair. It was started in the late 1960s by Robert and Rolande Schrade and named after the first letter of their own names and the names of their five children. Three of the children eventually joined their parents in becoming professional musicians and pianists. On five Sunday afternoons every summer, several generations of Schrades continue to present concerts by themselves and other musicians. 

Kinga Augustyn
The latest program was a stunning recital by young Polish-born violinist Kinga Augustyn and third-generation Schrade family pianist Lynelle James. It opened with an arrangement of Bartok’s “Sonatina,” originally written for solo piano on Romanian folk tunes. Augustyn’s natural tone is full and rich, but she scaled it back for the livelier dance rhythms, and even in the hectic close she never smudged a note. In total contrast, she next ascended the Mount Everest of the solo violin repertory with a virtuosic but finely nuanced account of the “Chaconne” from Bach’s second partita. These 14 minutes require the utmost concentration, but Augustyn made it all look effortless.

The rest of the program focused mostly on Polish music, but in this duo’s elegant performance, Fritz Kreisler’s arrangement of Chopin’s Mazurka, Op. 33/3 had an almost Viennese lilt, as did, fittingly, Kreisler’s own “Schoen Rosmarin.” The first half closed with a lively account of Wieniawski’s lovely “Polonaise de Concert” in D.

Intermission was followed by James’s fiery solo reading of Chopin’s “Winter Wind” etude. Surprisingly lyrical pieces by Paganini and Paderewski were then followed by a sensuous account of Szymanowski’s gorgeous “Fountain of Arethusa,” which exceeded even the brilliant closing Sarasate showpiece “Zieunerweisen” in interpretive finesse. A fervent encore of the Bach/Gounod “Ave Maria” brought the concert to a moving end.

As if all this musical nourishment wasn’t enough, Sevenars intermissions offer delicious home-baked refreshments; and there are still two more concerts to come in this uniquely bucolic setting: on August 9, Jerry Noble and friends; on August 16, James family musicians (Lynelle; her father, pianist David James; and her brother, cellist Christopher James).