VOLOS, GREECE – Sponsored by Chamber Music Hellas, a non-profit founded in New York, the week-long 2nd annual Thessaly Chamber Music Festival progressed from Larisa to Mount Pelion, presenting a thrilling evening concert amid breathtaking views of Volos, the Aegean, and surrounding mountains welcomed by the window walls of the Veranda restaurant in Portaria.
On Wednesday night the concert commenced with the Sonata for Violin and Piano performed by pianist William Hobbs and violinist Ida Kavafian and composed by Lowell Liebermann, the Festival’s curator and the Artistic Director of Chamber Music Hellas.
For each piece Hobbs was joined by a different string player, highlighting the fine musicians featured by the Festival. The Sonata for Violin and Piano was written by English composer, poet, and author Arnold Bax, another example of the excellent choices of pieces by Liebermann blending lesser and better known creators throughout the series of performances.
The myriad shades of blue and grey visible in the sea and sky were reflected the tender strains of Steven Tenenbom’s viola and Hobbs’ shattering piano chords – darkness finally reigning on Earth outside and sometimes breaking into the music.
As the world whirled though space and time marched on through the dusk, the village of Portaria being lit more and more by the man-made lights of Volos now that the glorious Hellenic sun had departed, the enchanted audience listened to the closing piece, Chopin’s Sonata for Cello and Piano.
The composition, the performance, and the Earth’s light show evoked for some the emotions of human relationships, Chopin’ piece – composed late in his tragically shortened life – perhaps reflecting the vicissitudes of his relationship with the noted woman writer named George Sand.
In the opening movement Hobbs’ piano and Keith Robinson’s cello lived in different musical worlds, the conversation often felt between instruments in chamber music virtually non-existent. By the Finale: Allegro, however, the pairs of twos – the instruments, the lovers they might represent – were echoing, even embracing one another.
The ending, if not happy, was sublime, music being the antidote to death, almost never having a dark ending, no matter how much pain and loss awaits.
Among the delights of the Festival for those who travelled from the States are the wonderful hotels that have been selected. In Portaria, high on Mt. Pelion, the guests and musicians stayed at the charming Despotiko, created by local entrepreneur Andreas Labrou on a property whose core is a beautiful 1859 mansion. The hotel was a most pleasant base for trips to the locales and venues of the Festival’s final days.
The mission of Chamber Music Hellas, a non-profit founded in New York by Vasos Papagapitos, is: “to introduce high quality classical chamber music,” especially to youth, with “accomplished artists who have performed at the world’s great stages” through a festival in “parts of Greece where people do not have the opportunity to enjoy this music artform.”
Papagapitos often expressed his appreciation to the Stavros Niarchos Foundation as well as to Consul General of Greece in New York, Dr. Konstantinos Koutras, for their support, and to the various municipalities for their assistance. The National Herald is among the Festival’s Media Sponsors.