CHAMELEON SERIES
IRIS VAN ECK/ KEMAL GEKIC
HANDEL/ BEETHOVEN/ DEBUSSY/ JANACEK/ BRAHMS (1-13-08)

By Lawrence Budmen

Cellist Iris van Eck and pianist Kemal Gekic proved a near perfect duo, matching sonic power and vivid instrumental personalities at the Chameleon seriesí afternoon musicale on January 13 at the Leiser Opera Center in Ft. Lauderdale. 

The players captured the Mediterranean languor of Debussyís Sonata in D minor, making childís play of the tricky rhythms and dissonant harmonics of the Serenade et Finale. The first of three sonatas for varied instrumental combinations penned in the final two years of the composerí s life, this score ventures beyond impressionism to embrace the astringent textures and motoric thrust that were sweeping Europe via the balletic scores of Stravinsky and Prokofiev. Van Eck and Gekic illuminated the Gallic enchantment of this path breaking work which still sounds astoundingly modern in the 21st century. 

Beethovenís Sonata in C Major, Op.102, No.1 is one of those remarkable creations from the masterís late period that reinvented the chamber music genre. Gekic lavished a whirlwind of pianistic exuberance on this emotionally volatile score, channeling subtlety as well as thunder. Van Eckí s warmly expressive delineation of the Adagio preceded an appropriately brusque Allegro vivace. 

From the first solemn chords to the bright, lithe finale, the duo brought dash and sparkle to the Baroque felicities of Handelís Sonata. Van Eckís dark tonal palette and measured, expansive pace probed the depths of the soulful Sarabande. Gekic exhibited unusual delicacy in this stylish recreation of an early instrumental showpiece. 

Leos Janacekís Pohadka (fairy tale) was a fascinating panoply of repetitive figurations that suggested contemporary minimalism and vivacious Czech melodies that would not have been out of place in a Dvorak string quartet. The musiciansí incisive performance offered a wealth of instrumental coloration. Every pianistic hue and plucked string motif was tellingly projected. 

Gekicís penchant for fiery octaves launched Brahmsí Sonata in F Major in blazing style. Van Eck eloquently spun the main theme of the Adagio affetuoso, a quintessentially Brahmsian melody of elongated passion. Instead of the usual heavy handed sobriety, the cellist exhibited a light touch in the charming Allegro passionato, reserving appealingly pensive edginess for the movementí s secondary theme. The explosive fireworks of the concluding Allegro molto were dispatched with dare devil verve and precision. 


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