Weekend review lineup 3: Chamber Music by Candlelight
Being free, this presentation of Community Concerts at Second is one of the best bargains in the area. Co-directed by violinist Ivan Stefanovic and clarinetist Edward Palanker, it's also is one of the most colorful. Like the perennially popular chamber music programs at the Spoleto Festival, the Candlelight series mixes together all sorts of instrumental combinations, genres and time periods.
Sunday's lineup was typically wide-ranging and absorbing. The evening started with ...
Clearly structured, the score exists in nine different versions, the better to make it marketable. If I am not mistaken, the version heard here for oboe, horn and piano is the one Kahn originally started with. (Hey, this is a blog, so I can end with a preposition if I fell like it.)
The instruments complement each other remarkably well, and the writing, with richly realized harmonies and vibrant contrapuntal action, is consistently attractive. Michael Lisicky (Oboe), Phil Munds (horn) and Mary Woehr (piano) performed the Serenade with equal parts sensitivity and panache.
Another talented trio -- violinist Qing Li, clarinetist Steven Barta, pianist Sheng-Yuan Kuan -- delivered a bravura account of Bartok's spiky, spicy, folksy, sometimes slightly jazzy "Contrasts." Must have been a Bartok crowd that night at the church (who knew?); the performance drew the heartiest ovation of all.
Speaking of contrasts, string quartets from two very different eras and sound-worlds filled out the program. Beethoven's Op. 95, which the composer labeled "serioso" for a good reason, received a taut, absorbing performance from violinists Rebecca Nichols and Greg Mulligan, violist Karin Brown, and cellist Bo Li.
The C major Quartet by Szymanowski (pictured), a composer whose distinctive music ought to be heard much more frequently, offers considerable rewards. The score boasts an abundance of color, from pastel to blatant; a piquant mix of tonalities; and remarkable richness of atmosphere.
Those qualities were communicated with considerable fluency and expressive power by an ensemble that featured Stefanovic and Brown, along with violinist Kenneth Goldstein and cellist Daniel Levitov.