Peabody's salute to Brahms provides a reason to celebrate

September 16, 1997|By David Donovan | David Donovan,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Ever since the Beethoven Bicentennial in 1970, the musical world has marked anniversary years of the great composers with concerts and festivals. This year marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Schubert and the 100th anniversary of the death of Johannes Brahms. Friday night, Peabody honored Brahms with an evening of chamber music by the great German composer that was perfectly programmed and, by and large, superbly performed.

Perhaps the strongest effort came from the second work presented, the Piano Trio No. 2 in C Major, Op. 87. The trio of violinist Martin Beaver, cellist Stephen Kates and pianist Marian Hahn were magnificent. Beaver's warm sound and alert attention to detail gave constant pleasure. Hahn was equally impressive, and Kates played with passion and imagination. Much more famous piano trios have not conquered the score in the manner of this trio.

The great Piano Quintet in F minor, Op. 34, made up the entire second half of the program. This work is almost symphonic in scope, and the realization was just as convincing as the preceding trio.

Beaver and Hahn were joined by violinist Min Jung Kang, Victoria Kang on viola, and cellist Thomas Kraines. The giant opening movement unfolded dramatically and with a real sense of direction. The second movement was given its proper amount of Schubertian spirit.

The last two movements were also excellent, but could have used a little more commitment from violist Chiang and cellist Kraines. The reckless abandon needed for the final heroic pages was only three-fifths there.

The Two Songs for Mezzo-Soprano, Viola and Piano, Op. 91, was highlighted by elegant contributions by singer Patricia Green. She has a beautiful natural voice, and the text was lovingly painted. Her accompaniment by Hahn was perfectly coordinated. Sadly, Victoria Chiang, although her viola work was note-perfect, was not the involved partner that late Brahms demands. This work has many of the nostalgic qualities one finds in the late clarinet works of Brahms, and those qualities were in abundance from singer and pianist, but the viola was stuck in neutral.

Pub Date: 9/16/97

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