Chamber players fizzle on return performance ANNE ARUNDEL DIVERSIONS

MUSIC REVIEW

November 06, 1992|By Phil Greenfield | Phil Greenfield,Contributing Writer

The evening of Beethoven, Brahms and Dvorak provided by the American Chamber Players on their last visit to St. John's College was one of the best I've ever had in a concert hall, and I eagerly awaited their return Friday to Kelly Auditorium.

But lightning, as we know, doesn't strike in the same place twice. While the return engagement had transcendent moments, nature's truism held its ground.

Hopes for a second peak experience fizzled immediately with a blandly under-characterized reading of Beethoven Opus 9 string trio in G Major. Straight-laced, perfunctory playing from the violinist overrode the more urgent cello and viola, and kept this great sampling of early Beethoven from taking flight.

Things remained earthbound with a pair of uneventful contemporary works that squandered the resources of flutist Sara Stern and French horn player Anthony Cecere.

Katherine Hoover's "Divertimento for flute, violin, viola and cello" begins with a pleasantly busy "Allegro giocoso" but progresses to a lengthy "Adagio" that quickly wears out its melodic welcome.

Max Rain's Horn Trio seemed geared toward momentary effect, not cohesive substance. The composer's thought process seemed to read, "First, some dissonance. Enough! OK, let's be fitful. Now, it's time for lyricism."

Fortunately the concert concluded with a gorgeously played account of the radiant Piano Quartet of Gabriel Faure.

This light-filled work brought out the more expansive instincts of violinist Elisabeth Adkins, and Jeffrey Solow capped off an evening of superb playing in Faure's many exposed cello passages.

But the proceedings were dominated by the supple, expressive, endlessly tasteful playing of pianist Ann Schein. If there are better chamber pianists in our part of the world than she, I've yet to encounter them.

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