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Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013

A World of Great Music

Mazmanian quartet spans flamenco through Sabre Dance

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Mazmanian Family
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One of the showpieces on the Mazmanian Family’s latest CD, Folk Spirit, is Brahms’ signature number, Hungarian Dance No. 5. The wild abandon bursting from passages of aching restraint, the Gypsy fury of the dance, is characteristic of the Mazmanian repertoire. The quartet spans the Mediterranean-Balkan-Levantine world, from the flamenco tempos of Ernesto Lecuona’s Malagueña, rooted in Spain’s Moorish past to the frenzy of Sabre Dance, Aram Khachaturian’s modernist take on the sharp-spiked rhythms of Armenia.

Juilliard graduate Greg Mazmanian has enjoyed a successful career playing violin with the San Francisco Symphony, as well as everyone from Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett to Ray Charles. But one can hear that his heart and soul are expressed most fully in the music he makes with his grown children, Eddy (violin), Rose (violin) and Ida (piano). Family acts can be tough, but the only discord among the Mazmanians comes from the stroke of a composer’s pen. “The funny thing is when I was performing solo years ago and suggested my kids join me, the presenters were silent and apprehensive,” Greg recalls. “Now when I’m approached, they all want to know if the ‘kids’ are all available before committing.”

The quartet format leaves no place to hide mistakes or mask sterility. The Mazmanians’ performances are robust and lucid, playful or hard driving as the spirit of the music demands. Folk Spirit includes Brahms and Khachaturian but goes beyond the classical canon to include Greek and Ukrainian folk material as well as many haunting melodies from the Mazmanians’ Armenian heritage.

The Mazmanian Family performs at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 26, at St. John the Baptist Armenian Orthodox Church, 7825 W. Layton Ave. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased at the door or by emailing office@stjohnarmenianchurch.org.