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Multiple talents on display in violin-bass duo's Mostly Mozart debut

TESSA LARK (VIOLIN) MICHAEL THURBER (BASS)
August 8, 2019 in Lincoln Center’s Rubenstein Atrium


What do Bach, bebop and bluegrass have in common? The answer, according to Tessa Lark and Michael Thurber, is more than one might think. With exhilarating teamwork, humour and educational instincts, the two musicians charmed an eager crowd in their first appearance at the Mostly Mozart Festival.

The hour-long recital paralleled their latest recording, inspired by Bach’s two-part inventions, which translate remarkably well to violin and bass (granted, as Lark sympathetically pointed out, her left hand is mostly in the first position, while to match her, Thurber has to vault up and down the fingerboard).

But other treats were scattered in between. Originally from Kentucky, Lark wrote Appalachian Fantasy (2016), deploying a second violin, cross-tuned with ‘dead man’s tuning’ (D-D-A-D, rather than G-D-A-E), to create an ingratiating solo from regional folk tunes. For the rest of the evening, her 1600 Maggini violin made an irresistible partner.

Thurber had his solo moment with Paul McCartney’s Blackbird (1968), and when he sang, showed that his agile fingerwork is only one of his multiple talents.


--BRUCE HODGES

Bruce Hodges, The Strad
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