The hottest classical music ticket in the Pacific Northwest last Friday was at the Liberty Theater.

Two Russians whom music impresario Keith Clark called the best of their generation performed chamber works by Strauss and Mendelssohn.

Longtime Astoria Music Festival favorite and cellist Sergey Antonov was joined by pianist Ilya Kazantsev.

Both artists are celebrated in the Russian pantheon of classical music. In 2007 Antonov became the youngest gold medalist of the International Tchaikovsky Competition. Kazantsev won first prize in the Nikolai Rubinstein International Competition in Paris.

Kazantsev became the most recent eminent pianist to play the Liberty's Steinway Model D. His deft transitions from pianissimo to fortissimo within a few measures drew audible gasps from the audience. Antonov's cello parts were exceptionally vigorous.

On Friday morning, the cellist and pianist performed at an Astoria High School assembly. After playing their first selection, Antonov had the house lights raised and asked for students to raise their hands. When a number of students showed their presence, Antonov praised their curiosity and the audience applauded.

"I know this is a night we will long remember," said Clark. The audience of some 300 agreed with applause after each movement of the chamber works.

Following a standing ovation and two curtain calls, Antonov and Kazantsev gifted the audience with an encore - "At the Fountain," a showpiece by the Russian composer Karl Davydov.

This story originally appeared in Daily Astorian.


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