The concerts offered by the Embassy Series bring together the interests of music, cuisine and international relations in a way that seems peculiar to the nation’s capital. The group’s season opener was a recital by Slovenian violinist Lana Trotovsek on Tuesday evening at the Embassy of the Republic of Slovenia.
Two standards of the violin repertoire were the main courses of this program, beginning with Beethoven’s Violin Sonata No. 5, Op. 24, known as the “Spring” sonata. Trotovsek used it to showcase her clean and refined tone and musical sense of phrasing, especially in the slow movement, marked by a radiant pianissimo sound and impeccable intonation.
The bolder side of Trotovsek’s playing came to the fore in César Franck’s Violin Sonata in A, which began veiled in the mist of the piano’s opening dominant ninth chords, taken at the dreamy tempo the composer originally envisioned for the first movement. Pianist Anna Shelest had a soft touch at the keyboard, which worked best in these delicate moments, but she also supported Trotovsek with plenty of sound at the work’s climaxes.
Although both of these pieces were beautifully played, it was really the unusual “Intermezzo Romantique,” composed by Slovenian Lucijan Marija Skerjanc in 1934, that stood out. Hints of Debussy and Liszt and even jazz were prominent, but the piece had a style all its own well worth discovering. The return diplomatic gesture of American music, an arrangement of themes from Gershwin’s “Porgy and Bess” by Russian composer Igor Frolov, was theatrical and fun, if a little quirky. Think American jazz filtered through a Soviet arranger, sung in a bravura, Kreisleresque idiom, with a Slovenian accent by way of London.
Downey is a freelance writer.