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Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2010

Setapen Sets Tone for Milwaukee’s Classical Future

Classical Review

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As much as we appreciate the established top classical performers in town, it is good to see a new, young professional player who, by talent and ability, earns a place in their company. Ilana Setapen is in her second season as associate concertmaster at Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. She presented a Sunday afternoon recital at Wisconsin Conservatory of Music, presented by Civic Music Association, that was both substantial and charming.

In the Fauré Violin Sonata No. 1 Setapen rose to heightened playing when the music had a touch of drama, sailing into a high range. Setapen found fleet gracefulness in quicker movements, in collaboration with pianist Stefanie Jacob. In the challenging Ives Sonata No. 2 for Violin and Piano, Setapen sounded a bit tentative in tone at the outset, but found her stride as it progressed. Both violinist and pianist sparkled with crisp, clean rhythm and articulations throughout the program. “Round of the Goblins” by Bazzini was an exclamation point encore, displaying nearly every violin technique in the book. It was dazzling fun.

Setapen invited guests to perform Bernard Herrmann’s romantic and atmospheric Souvenirs de Voyage, for clarinet and string quartet. One was inescapably reminded of Herrmann’s film score for Vertigo. Hearing clarinetist Todd Levy and Setapen trade lovely phrases back and forth was a high pleasure. I’d like to hear more from the Arcas String Quartet, comprised of young MSO players, with Setapen as first violin. They have a promising ensemble sound.

Another violin recital took place on Friday evening at Wisconsin Lutheran College. Bella Hristova is a young lioness of the instrument. In Beethoven’s Sonata No. 1 in D Major, she and pianist Ieva Jokubaviciute charged forth with assertive, athletic playing. At its best it was exciting, but risked being too intense. Hristova’s Bach Partita No. 3 revealed an able technician. Fiery playing came forth in Ysae’s Sonata for Solo Violin No. 2. Hristova was unable to capture the ethereal, floating qualities of the opening section of Schubert’s Fantasy in C Major. Violinist and pianist were best served by Schoenberg’s Phantasy, op. 47, diving into its angular angst with panache.