Saturday, February 23, 2013
Yesterday we celebrated my twin sisters' birthday with a concert right here at the Bay Club in Port Ludlow. I hadn't heard the International String Trio before, so this was a shot in the dark, but having taken a chance on them, I must say they did not disappoint.
The group's founder and leader, Russian Slava Tolstoy (guitar), combines with Englishman Ben Powell (violin) and bassist Ippei Ichimaru of Tokyo, Japan to produce a bright, lively sound that floated last night like a lighter-than-air vehicle. These are conservatory-trained musicians whose professionalism and enthusiasm made believers out of a sophisticated audience, meeting and exceeding the crowd's high standards.
Violinist Ben Powell, who achieves a perfect, bell-like tone on this most tonally challenging of all instruments, was showcased last night by the Bay Club's excellent acoustics, and I can't write a review of the concert without complimenting whoever it was that engineered the window coverings which give this room such acoustic integrity, so essential to an unplugged concert.
Slava Tolstoy led the group through a repertoire that included original Americana with a Ural Mountains flavor (are there hillbillies in the Russian hills?), Klezmer, and especially Gypsy jazz, and his solo on the Django Reinhardt - Stephane Grappelly chestnut "Minor Swing" was a finger-blisterer. Ippei Ichimaru's athleticism on contra bass was a visual treat as well as an audial workout. You've never seen a guy who's literally all over his instrument like this virtuoso, and here again the Bay Club's remarkable acoustics lent this usually reticent instrument a wonderful presence I haven't experienced before.
My sister Sue bought three CD's so we each got a sample to take home. and I'm already looking forward to this trio's return.