Music can speak louder than words. That point was demonstrated in a presentation by the Class of 2000 Lecture Series at the Friends School of Baltimore.
The series ordinarily features speakers "whose message will enrich the Friends and Baltimore communities." On Tuesday night, two top-drawer musicians did the enriching instead, via sonatas by Brahms, Chopin and Debussy. They communicated strongly, eloquently.
Pianist Ann Schein and violinist Earl Carlyss have spent many years honing those skills, individually and in tandem. Schein's solo career has been distinguished by a combination of refined taste and technical force. Carlyss spent two decades in the Juilliard String Quartet, which says plenty. Both players, who recently retired from the Peabody Conservatory faculty, have also left a strong mark as teachers.
When Schein and Carlyss collaborate onstage, they have an extra advantage, honed from years of exploring the more poetic implications of what it means for a husband and wife to make beautiful music together.
Their tight, intercommunication senses could be felt throughout an account of Debussy's Violin Sonata characterized by bright, clear colors and forward momentum.
In Brahms' D minor Sonata, Carlyss' tone could have used a little more body and shine, but he generated plenty of lyrical sweep; Schein articulated the rich piano part with superb clarity and expressive fire. As an encore, the couple submitted a delectably, idiomatically phrased confection by Kreisler.
This free, well-attended concert also showcased the pianist on her own in a bracing account of Chopin's B minor Sonata. A few notes may have gotten away from her, but none of the score's drama; the scherzo and finale generated explosive playing.