The Embassy Series had its final event of the season Friday at the Embassy of Luxembourg in cooperation with the Embassy of Poland. These aren’t concerts as much as classy soirees; patrons enjoy cocktails beforehand (some nursing them through the performance) and dinner afterward. Speeches and ceremonial gifts are exchanged, and audience members take photos and video during the performance with impunity.
All of this distracts from the music, of course, but violinist Yevgeny Kutik and pianist Timothy Bozarth took it in stride. A middle-of-the-road program of Brahms, Bloch, Ravel, Lutoslawski and Wieniawski was delivered with professionalism and focus.
Kutik — Russian-born and Boston-based — sports a clean and precise bow-arm, but his left hand is another matter. While the sound is energetic, even piercing, he has not yet learned to fully transcend the instrument and produce music of natural appeal, where each note contains its own beauty but is also part of a logical, satisfying phrase. Random notes would stick out either for lack of vibrato or an uncomfortably tense one. And his intonation, although mainly good, would sometimes falter high up on the G string. He is a virtuoso in the flashy sense, but he has to develop the deeper aspect of translating musical and technical complexity into simplicity.
By far Kutik’s biggest success of the evening was his encore — the “Burlesque” from Shostakovich’s Violin Concerto No. 1. The inappropriateness of playing a concerto movement for a recital encore was more than outweighed by the ideal accord of material and player. The piece played perfectly to Kutik’s strengths, with its slashing chords and snarling runs, devoid of any lyrical material. For the rest, the young violinist needs to spend more time listening to great singers as well as forebears such as Oistrakh and Perlman. Bozarth was unsubtle but followed his partner admirably.
Battey is a freelance writer.