IN: Reviews

Musical Chairs on Mother’s Day


Guillaume Connesson

The Boston Chamber Music Society began its Mother’s Day concert with the Mozart Piano Quartet in G Minor, K.478. In the Allegro Mozart uses g minor as a dramatic vehicle that he contrasts with B-flat major lyricism. The brightness of the piano in Jordan Hall made for real clarity in the ensemble that might have gotten lost with a more sedate instrument. The composer’s quotation of the theme at the end of the first made for a magnificent surprise. In the Andante Max Levinson withheld great beauty from the initial theme, although as the movement progressed he seemed to relax. He covered violinist Yura Lee at times with his workmanlike descending scales when we should have enjoyed her melody. A beautiful halo of sound ended this movement. The Allegro,  in g major, moves from the expected liveliness before proceeding to dance along in a lively rondo. Levinson knows how to ask a musical question to great effect. He appropriately carried this movement.

The instrumentation of Guillaume Connesson’s minimalist 1998  Sextet for oboe, clarinet, violin, viola, contrabass and piano works to great effect. Hypnotique commenced with solid 16th notes filed with energy and it never let up. The ensemble held fast and tight until the point at which Connesson drops the dynamics to ppp, only to crescendo again; then the Sextet stopped suddenly in its tracks. Bang! That’s all, folks!

Nocturne lived up to its name. Rane More’s clarinet solos came across with clear line and a real sense of destination; the beginning and the later reprise with the low register of the piano and the bass allowed these elegant melodies to sing. Peggy Pearson matched Rane Moore’s sonorousness in their duets. It’s so well-written, but it is impossible to describe how the bass writing in particular contributes to the atmosphere. It is like trying to describe to someone why the opening of Rite of Spring works so fantastically well with the opening melody played by the bassoon in its high range

Festif evoked Prokofiev in the off beats in the piano. The players brought off the accelerandos with great finesse, keeping tight control right to the charming ending.

Ernő Dohnányi in 1915

Tison Street’s Adagio for oboe, string quartet and bass began with musical chairs as the stagehands messed up! After the required adjustments, a strong and well-tuned unison sang out. Pearson carried the melody with grace and style. I am not sure why Street doubled bass and cello lines frequently. At times Pearson passed the solo to Yura Lee who returned it with interest.

Ernst von Dohnanyi’s Sextet for clarinet, horn, violin, viola, cello and piano in C Major Op.37, gives the horn an important role, especially at the satart where the Picardy thirds go from minor to major. In the Allegro Appasionata I wished Dohnanyi had relaxed things a bit; it overtopped the scale of chamber music. The interesting Intermezzo included a quite cinematic march the middle. John Williams might have learned something from it. A rhythmic ostinato began the march gestures marvelously. And the Picardy third makes another brief appearance at the end of this movement. Allegro con sentiment also lived up to its name, though it unfolded quite lyrically with some scherzo-like sections interspersed. The piano continued attaca to the very enjoyable Allegro vivace, in which waltz bits interspersed perfectly with the charming theme. A full flourish going up to D flat triumphantly decided on C major at the boffo close.

Colleen Katsuki, a pianist on call at the Boston Lyric Opera, maintains a piano studio at her home in Lincoln.

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