One of the great things about an extended event such as the Eastern Music Festival is the opportunity to hear music that is off the beaten path. Tuesday night's chamber concert certainly took a step to remedy the "problem" of only hearing the classics.
Of course, W.A. Mozart (Austria, 1756-91) is famous, but his Oboe Quartet in F major (1780), written for his friend, oboe virtuoso Friedrich Ramm is not that frequently performed. The piece is in the traditional fast-slow-fast arrangement. Randall Ellis (oboe), Jenny Gregoire (violin), Jamie Hofman (viola), and Marta Simidtchieva (cello) served as the able musicians.
This light-weight, fun music, is designed to please the listener. And it certainly did. Ellis' perky oboe was ever evident and good intonation and energy made for a winning performance.
The third movement (Notturno) from the String Quartet No. 2 in D major by Alexander Borodin (Russia, 1833-87) is a bonbon. The Notturno contains the lovely tune made famous in the musical "Kismet." The performers - Corrine Brouwer and David Yarbrough (violins), Jamie Hofman (viola), and Julian Schwarz (cello) - extracted all the juice they could from the super-romantic tune.
Dmitri Shostakovich (Russia, 1906-75) wrote his String Quartet No. 6 in G major (1956) shortly after marrying his second wife, a particularly happy time for the composer. Some of the music, indeed, is a bit light-hearted, but there is plenty of darkness as well. Netanel Draiblate and Diana Lupo (violins), Jennifer Puckett (viola) and Neal Cary (cello) played the four-movement work with commitment and sensitivity.
The second half of the concert was given over to composers I had never heard of. Starting with Caroline Shaw (American, b.1982), who was born in Greenville, N.C., and is the youngest recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 2013. Her "Blueprint for String Quartet" (2016) is a multi-sectioned work that includes intentional "out-of-tune" playing as well as lots of pizzicato. Yolanda Bruno and Jennifer Rickard (violins), Ben Geller (viola) and Beth Vanderborgh (cello) gave an energized reading.
Elegy in C minor for Piano Trio, Op.16 (1913) by Alexandre Krein (Russia, 1883-1951) is written in a richly chromatic, romantic style. Especially solid piano playing by Ruoting Li was matched by beautiful playing by Avi Nagin (violin) and Rebecca Zimmerman (cello) in the darkly beautiful work.
Music for Piano Trio (2010) by Paul Frucht (American, b.1989) featured unusual techniques including harmonics, glissandos, and extreme registers. Avi Nagin (violin), Julian Schwarz (cello) and Marika Bournaki (piano) admirably presented the work that is all over the stylistic map. The episodic 10-minute work contains snatches of lyric tunes in languid passages, which contrasts strongly with energetic sections that occasionally turned violent.
Fabian Lopez and Uli Speth (violins), Diane Phoenix-Neal (viola), Amy Frost-Baumgarten (cello), Marc Facci (double bass), Chris Gekker (cornet) and Marika Bournaki (piano) came together to perform the U.S. Premiere of the Septet for Cornet, Piano, String Quintet and Double Bass by Hilda Sehested (Denmark, 1858-1936). The work, which was almost immediately forgettable, was given a commendable performance.