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Review: Meadowlark Music Festival closes at St. Paul United Methodist | Music

The 2017 Meadowlark Music Festival closed Sunday evening with festival musicians playing at St. Paul United Methodist Church.

Performers included Violinist Ellen Jewett, pianist Tom Larson, bassist Hans Sturm, percussionist Dane Richeson, saxophonist Marco Albonetti and Chris Varga on vibraphone.

A special addition Sunday was Meadowlark Festival founder and seasoned pianist Ann Chang, playing the Brahms “Sonata No. 3 for Violin and Piano, Op. 108” with Jewett.

The pair approached the Sonata with studied concentration. Chang exhibited lovely entrances and exits to phrases. Jewett took care to ensure the elegance of Brahms’ musical structure. It sounded like these two had been playing together for years.

The sonata’s finale contains complicated counterpoint, then the piano brings out an exquisite chordal melody. Jewett’s violin had a sweet answer for the piano and the house said they loved it with bravos and strong applause at the end.

Next it was Albonetti’s turn with three Astor Piazzolla works, joined by Sturm, Richeson and Chang. For “Ave Maria” Albonetti chose a mellow if not melancholy melodic touch.

They say “Piazzolla’s “Oblivion” shouldn’t be attempted by anyone who hasn’t heard the composer’s own bandeon performance of it. Apparently Albonetti has studied the master’s tape well; the sax solo mirrored Piazzolla perfectly. Sturm offered a moving bass solo to begin the piece.

The composer’s well-known “Libertango” was fast and sexy, and Albonetti’s sax screamed the melody well. Patrons were pew-dancing. Excellent group camaraderie moved the audience to cheer and applaud loudly for the interpretations.

Jazz works concluded the fare with Larson, Varga, Sturm and Richeson tackling some individual favorites.

First up was the Charlie Haden masterpiece “Silence.” Far from silent, however,…

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