Updated: Jul 16, 2021
(L-R): Violinists and sisters Ani and Ida Kavafian (Photo: Bernard Mindich)
(Detroit Free Press) – It has been a long time since sisters Ani and Ida Kavafian performed together in their hometown. The Detroit-raised violinists, who have enjoyed major careers as chamber musicians, soloists and teachers, bring a special chemistry and energy to their local appearances, but the intensity always seems a little more amplified when they play together.
To commemorate the 100th anniversary of Armenian genocide, the Kavafians are performing in St. John Armenian Church in Southfield, the church where as kids they attended services for major holidays and witnessed other Armenian cultural events. The diverse program includes “A Tale for Two Violins” (2014) written for the Kavafians by Kristapor Najarian, a 24-year-old Los Angeles-based composer. Judging by the premiere performance that’s available on YouTube, it’s a compelling 21-minute piece for unaccompanied violins, structured in six episodes ripe with folk-inflected melodies, bent pitches, animated rhythms and a nod early on to Ravel’s String Quartet in F. Accessible without mortgaging a sense of mystery, the music moves between prayerful movements and those rooted in dance. The balance of feeling, virtuosity and teamwork plays to the Kavafians’ strengths.
Also on the program is music by Bach, Prokofiev, Bohuslav Martinu and Moritz Moszkowski. Pianist Jonathan Feldman joins the violinists on about half the program, and young cellist Anna Mamassian also appears.
7 p.m. Saturday, St. John Armenian Church, 22001 Northwestern Highway, Southfield. 586-242-3821. www.stjohnsarmenianchurch.org. $20, $10 students and children under 18.
Richard Stoltzman: Back in the ‘70s, Ida Kavafian formed one-fourth of the pioneering contemporary ensemble Tashi with cellist Fred Sherry, pianist Peter Serkin and clarinetist Richard Stoltzman. As it happens, Stoltzman also is performing in metro Detroit this weekend for the Chamber Music Society of Detroit. He’s a charismatic musician who was gleefully following his curiosity and imagination across genres and into nontraditional corners of the repertoire long before today’s millennials. This time out, his program is fairly traditional, including music by Schubert and Brahms, along with Leonard Bernstein’s terrific Sonata for Clarinet and Piano and Australian composer Peter Sculthorpe’s “Songs of Sea and Sky” (1987), which is based on a traditional song from Saibai Island of the coast of New Guinea.
3 p.m. Sunday, Varner Recital Hall, Oakland University, 2200 N. Squirrel Road, Auburn Hills. 248-855-6070. www.ChamberMusicDetroit.org. $30 adults, $15 students.