The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, with guest pianist Jeremy Denk, rollicked the Folly Theater Saturday night with unhesitant joie de vivre.
With a program steeped in the lushness of the Romantic era, the concert, presented by the Friends of Chamber Music, exhibited all that is well with this music: conversational instrumental patter, rich sonorities and dynamic character, performed exquisitely.
Denk played on the entire program, a simpatico tour de force, demanding, supporting, engaging and driving the pulse of the works. He is an admirable musician and thinker with a subdued star power who makes this music relevant in the modern context not just by being a technical virtuoso, but by his incarnate artistry of expression.
Selections from Max Bruch’s Eight Pieces for Clarinet, Viola and Piano launched the performance, with percolating rhythms on piano accompanying the rich alto voices. Clarinetist Jose Franch-Ballester and violist Paul Neubauer blended seamlessly in the poignant “Nachtgesang,” yet the individual voices rose out of the texture on the simple, exposed “Rumanian Melody.” The placement of ornamentation heralded the quick shifts in character between phrases, switching from lighthearted to dramatic.
The symphonic quality of Brahms’ Trio in E-flat minor for Horn, Violin and Piano was readily apparent, as was his genius in transitioning from a simple melody to one dripping in emotion. The sequential figure in the theme passed like a sigh between the instrumentalists.
The gentle progress of the adagio belied the delicacy of the movement. Violinist Erin Keefe offered the most perfect pianissimo I have heard, seeming to contract the walls of the Folly.
The thundering dynamic expansion from the piano and heroic horn calls from John Zirbel created an exciting finale.
Fearlessness coupled with playfulness oversaw Ernö Dohnányi’s Sextet in C Major for Clarinet, Horn, Violin, Viola, Cello and Piano, with cellist Nicholas Canellakis joining the group. Dohnányi was also a pianist and conductor, and Denk landed right in the driver’s seat. The piano set pace, creating continuous support for the other voices and leading the changes in character.
The variety of character is certainly a highlight. From passionate to martial, jovial to heroic, drunken to driving, the work has a try-to-keep-up attitude, and the ensemble offered a thrilling, race-to-the-finish conclusion.
Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/2012/10/15/3868187/chamber-music-at-its-finest-at.html#storylink=cpy