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Russian School

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Speaking of free shows, my friend Pete and I made our way over to Hell's Kitchen Friday night for the Movado Hour at the Baryshnikov Arts Center, which offers not only free music but free wine and hors d'oeuvres in a relaxed, cabaret-like setting. Nice.

Pete's not a big classical guy, but even he was blown away by pianist Bella Davidovich and her son, violinist Dimitry Sitkovetsky, who played Schumann, Prokofiev and Ravel, along with a couple of Fritz Kreisler encores. Davidovich, who turns 80 this year, is a living example of the great Russian piano tradition: passionate, yet disciplined, with an emphasis on clarity. Sitkovetsky was right with her, playing with a flair that dazzled without dominating. The whole thing was over in an hour: just the right amount for a newcomer.

"That was awesome," Pete said to me afterward. And he wasn't even talking about the booze. For once.

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