Sharon Park – violin, Andrew Giordano – violin, Josh Sawicki      – piano Silver Ainomäe – cello and Leah Kovach     – viola

Silver Ainomäe, the former principal cellist with the Colorado Symphony, came back to Denver for some snow and a concert with friends. The Artistic Director of Englewood Arts and associate principal cellist with the Minnesota Orchestra was absolutely celebrated by a sold-out audience. The afternoon performance featured some of the finest musicians in Denver.  Sharon Park is Executive Director of the Denver Chamber Music Festival that launched last June and returns in 2020.  Andrew Giordano plays in the Altius String Quartet and Leah Kovach is a violist with the CSO.  Josh Sawicki performs with the CSO, the Greeley Philharmonic and other regional orchestras. 

Silver’s first gift was Prokofiev’s C Major Sonata for Cello, Opus 119 which was composed in 1949  for a young Mstislav Rostropovich. The first movement, Andante Grave, began with a melancholy question that yearned for an answer.  The movement continued with broad dissonant gestures as the melody tenderly veered away from C Major.  The C Major of Prokofiev is not the C Major of Mozart or Beethoven. Never have I heard C Major yield to such lyrical resolution. Silver matched Prokofiev’s required athleticism while Josh’s keyboard skills kept the music grounded with undulating chords. The second movement opened with staccato notes from the piano and pizzicato from the cello.  Josh’s understanding of 20th century Russian music was especially intelligent when the instruments blended in unison. After a standing ovation, the pair offered an encore of the Fauré’s dreamlike Apres un Reve.  It was a sigh like the quiet of a winter morning.

Violinists Sharon Park and Andrew Giordano and violist Leah Kovach joined Josh and Silver for César Franck’s infrequently performed Piano Quintet in F Minor. Throughout the three movements,  Franck explored his central motif of a single note, then a half step up, a return to the original note, a whole step up and another return. The Quintet began with strident chords that dissipated into off-kilter arpeggios. When the movement concluded with somber tones the audience was prepared for the meditative notes that introduced the Lento con molto sentimento.  The piano’s lower register lent a rhythmic repetition beneath Silver’s long up bows and the other strings in a waltz perfect for ice skating.  In the final movement, the violins’ and viola’s short bows fluttered with tension that culminated in the final chords. The immediate rupture of applause praised the performers and Silver’s commitment to showcasing fine musicians on the Englewood Arts stage.  He will return for a Leap Year concert on February 29th that will include a Boccherini String Trio, a Beethoven String Trio and Dvorak’s Terzetto in C Op. 74.  Based on how packed the room was with standing room only I’d secure those tickets now.