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Tim Fain hits the Wow note at Hudson Hall

Music Review
Sun Sep 16th, 2018

Tim Fain. Photo by Michael Weintrob.

In a concert punctuated by frequent calls of “Bravo,” violinist and composer Tim Fain delivered a marvelous performance of virtuosity to open the 2018 Leaf Peepers concert series. This full-house concert was held on Saturday, September 15, at newly renovated Hudson Hall.

Now in its 37th season, Leaf Peepers concerts under the inspired leadership of noted flutist Eugenia Zukerman, who serves as Music Director, have grown to become one of the leading concert experiences in the region.

Saturday night’s performance by Tim Fair did not disappoint. In introducing Fain, Zukerman described him as “astonishing” and “amazing,” and as someone who champions new composers, while being a noted composer himself. Her own acquaintance with Fain spans the past twenty years.

A string of superlatives would fall short of describing the musical gifts bestowed upon Fain by way of supreme talent. His dazzling solo on J.S. Bach’s “Chaconne” from the D minor Partita was breathtakingly nuanced and sensitively energetic. It sounded like he was playing two violins at once.

Saturday’s performance offered selected pieces from Fain’s “Portals” which was premiered to sold-out audiences in New York and was equally well-received around the world. The program in Hudson presented a panoply of creative interplay, including some of Fain’s own compositions as well as the work of other modern composers with whom Fain has worked in collaboration. Included were compositions by Philip Glass, Lev Zhurbin, Bryce Dessner, Nico Muhly, William Bolcom, and Missy Mazzoli.

Many of Fain’s pieces ventured into the realm of mixed media in which other performers were seen in video or pre-recorded audio to form a new collaborative genre. Fain explained that the result is a collaboration in which only one performer stands in live performance on the stage while being fully engaged and involved with the recorded artistry.

Outstanding for their transformative power were Fain’s own multi-media compositions, “Overview I” and “Overview II,” inspired by astronaut Richard Garriott who described the experience of seeing planet Earth from space and then returning “home” to Kazakhstan saw the whole globe as his home. These pieces by Fain captured a soaring orbiting perspective of our spinning globe with high-pitched aerial elegance that challenged imagination to go further.

Two other impressive pieces played by Fain were Bryce Dessner’s “Ornament and Crime” and “Dissolve, O My Heart” by Missy Mazzoli. The former articulated a dense, abstract aesthetic with plunging, dissenting, critical perspective, while the latter Bach-inspired composition dissolves into hectic, emotional power that nearly crashes, yet manages to discover a musical language that stays afloat.

The concert closed with “Knee Play 2” from Philip Glass’ opera Einstein on the Beach. Fain plays this piece with such consummate technical artistry that he nearly “owns” one of Glass’ earliest musical hits. (They have collaborated together on other compositions.)

Teamed with consummate artistry was Fain’s natural way with the audience, at once engaging and personable, making the artist and the performance perfectly accessible. For a recent TMI interview with Tim Fain click here.  .

Next in the series of Leaf Peeper concerts will be a performance by the Neave Piano Trio in Great Barrington, MA, at the newly renovated Saint James Place, a stunning venue.