Vamos concert showcases a gifted family’s music-making

Mon Dec 19, 2011 at 12:25 pm

By Lawrence A. Johnson

Roland and Almita Vamos performed in a concert Saturday night at the Music Institute of Chicago.

One clearly needn’t hire a freelance trio for holiday celebrations at the Vamos household.

As shown Saturday at the Vamos family concert at the Music Institute of Chicago, the musically gifted extended family has enough talent to fill many musical evenings from Christmas through the New Year.

Saturday night’s event at Nichols Concert Hall in Evanston was anchored by Roland and Almita Vamos. The married couple are long-time celebrated pedagogues at Northwestern and the Music Institute with a roster of distinguished former students, and fine performers in their own right. They were joined by two pairs of sons and daughters-in-law: Brandon Vamos and Simin Ganatra, (cellist and first violinist of the Pacifica Quartet), and guitarist Rami Vamos and violinist Nurit Pacht, as well as pianist Eugenia Monacelli, Almita Vamos’s sister.

The clear highlight was Roland Vamos’s personality-plus Gypsy Medley. Natty in his blue tuxedo jacket, the Hungarian-born violinist brought a still-impressive technique and idiomatic zigeneur fire to the czardas rhythms with guitarist Rami Vamos and bass Josh Fink in fine support.

Nurit Pacht

Though a less high-profile presence than others on stage, violinist-teacher Pacht contributed some of the finest playing of the evening. She delivered fiery playing in Moszkowski’s Suite in G minor with Almita Vamos and Monacelli. Taking the first part in Bach’s Concerto for Three Violins Pacht also showed a blazing technique while deftly keeping within Rococo parameters. Almita Vamos and Ganatra were equally assured solo colleagues and Roland Vamos conducted, drawing vigorous, well-pointed support from the small chamber orchestra.

Brandon Vamos offered a superb account of Chopin’s Cello Sonata, bringing out the searching rhapsodic expression with the right touch of elegance. Also heard was Poulenc’s Violin Sonata in a strongly projected performance by Almita Vamos, and guitarist Rami Vamos in two of his own compositions.

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