Review American Classical Orchestra

For the season opening concert September 18, 2017

Solo appearance with Orchestra of Saint Luke's

With movements from Vivaldi's "4 Seasons", Karen appeared as a soloist with the Orchestra of Saint Luke's on August 8th 2015. As a last-minute substitute for the Concertmaster of the orchestra, Karen played not only as a part of the first violin section throughout the concert but took care of the solo part of the Vivaldi at the MassMOCA (Massachusetts Museum Of Contemporary Art) accompanied by artwork of Clifford Ross. 

Recording with Smithsonian Chamber Players in Spring 2015

From May 25th through 30th, Karen spent in Saint-Irénée (Canada) recording chamber ensemble arrangements of Mahler, Debussy and Busoni.

Playing with her, among others, are Mark Fewer, Steven Dann and Russell Braun (voice). Featured are Schoenberg's Verein-arrangements of Debussy's Prelude to Afternoon of a Faun and Busoni's Berceuse Elegiaque, along with arrangements made by Kenneth Slowik for the same ensemble of Mahler's Kindertotenlieder and Rückert-lieder.

The disc will be released under the Smithsonian label.

Review Washington Post: "Acoustics don't deter Smithsonian Chamber Players"
By Grace Jean, published November 25, 2013

The Smithsonian Chamber Players battled cool temperatures and super-dry acoustics at the National Museum of American History to give two string quintets a warm and stirring performance Sunday evening.

Playing on 17th-century instruments, the five musicians fought the Warner Bros. Theater’s unforgiving tendency to swallow up sound from the stage. Their efforts paid off in Dvorak’s “American” Quintet in E-flat, Op. 97, where violinist Mark Fewer made eye contact with his colleagues to encourage their joyful, cohesive playing. In the hands of violinist Karen Dekker, violists Steven Dann and Rory McLeod, and cellist Kenneth Slowik, the work attained an expressive resonance with variegated textures, especially in the larghetto. The hall’s dryness ultimately benefitted the quintet’s allegro vivo, where the lone viola melody soared above wispy pizzicato strings.

For Dvorak’s contemporary Anton Bruckner, however, the acoustics had the undesired effect of exaggerating the fragmented structure and repetitious nature of the composer’s Quintet in F. The theater was especially tough on the musicians during an exposed upper-string unison section, where even the slightest aberration in intonation sounded hyper apparent.

But the quintet regrouped for an impressive adagio, in which each historical instrument — four made by Stradivari and one viola by Nicolo Amati — basked in the spotlight, helping to stretch the score’s dynamic boundaries from feathery lines to a vibrant wave of music. There, the ensemble created a comforting warmth, like a complex cappuccino with nutty overtones topped with a hint of cinnamon and biscotti sweetness.

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