S&R Foundation's Evermay Concert features intimate music in an elegant setting

May 4, 2014

S&R Foundation Concert Series has thrust itself into the musical life of the District in a big way: There have been eight programs since early March, the final one Friday at Georgetown’s historic Evermay Estate. Somewhat like those of its neighbor to the west, Dumbarton Oaks, Evermay concerts feature intimate music in an elegant setting (although not comfortable chairs), with wine available.

S&R programs are short (an hour or less, without intermission), but Friday’s recital by violinist Tamaki Kawakubo and pianist Akira Eguchi was of top quality. Eguchi, although appearing at half the type size of Kawakubo in the program, was the true celebrity, having toured worldwide for 20 years and recorded for DG, Philips and BMG, among many other labels. Kawakubo, although younger and less experienced, also is an artist of high polish. Their two Beethoven sonatas — Nos. 1 and 5 (“Spring”) — were not phoned in; the performance was full of nuance and detail that would’ve required careful rehearsal.

Kawakubo knows how to create a singing line and scales her high-octane sound sensitively according to the musical demands. I was particularly impressed at the refulgent quality it took on in the later “Spring” sonata, after the artless zest of the first one.

The music room at Evermay, which holds about 100 seats, is hazardously live; rectangular, with surfaces of wood, brick, plaster and glass. The artists were wise to keep the piano lid closed, but still, sudden dynamic contrasts were flattened out and passages of fast short notes, such as the scales in the “Spring” sonata’s scherzo, came out muddy. But, overall, it was very fine playing, and Eguchi anchored the performance with his characteristic aplomb and sensitivity.