Delightful Concert by Chamber Music SocietyBoston Chamber Music Society, March 24, 8 pm, Sanders Theatre.
The fifth concert in the Boston Chamber Music Society series has lived up the quality of performance demonstrated in their previous concerts this year. The concert opened with Mozart's Quartet in D major for flute and strings, K. 285.
This work features the flute almost excusively, the strings supplying subdued accompaniment most of the time. Fenwick Smith (flute) performed brilliantly, as usual, milking sweetness and melancholy from the slow movement, and providing jocularity and lyricism from the outer two.
The strings were adequate, but at times, a little more delicacy would have been more appropriate. The second movement was most successful, as the strings played pizzicato throughout, under a long, smooth line supplied by the flute.
The second piece on the program was Chansons Madecasses by Ravel. Guest artist Beverly Morgan joined Fenwick Smith, Bruce Coppock (cello), and Randall Hodgkinson (piano) to perform this wonderfully colorful yet ultimately uncomplicated piece.
Morgan not only sang in a beautiful, powerful voice, but also used her body and facial expression to reinforce the words she sang. The instrumentation was fairly sparse throughout; the cello and flute played softly while the piano added color and enery underneath.
The first song, Nahandove, o belle Nahandove, had a passion and eroticism which was all but overpowering. The second song, Aoua! Aoua! Mefiez-vous des blancs, described the white man's interactions with the natives of Madagascar. Anger and pride swelled up in Morgan's voice as she described the atrocities, and Ravel's brilliant scoring supported her magnificently. The last song, Il est doux de se coucher, a rather relaxed one, was a welcome release from the tension of the second song. The performances were insightful and interesting throughout.
The last piece, Brahms' Piano Quintet in G minor, opus 25, was another fine performance. The opening allegro was dark and mysterious, the piano and cello introducing the haunting theme with restrained melancholy. A brisk, light Intermezzo was followed by a very beautiful Andante con moto. The final movement, Rondo alla Zingarese, had an energetic gypsy quality.
The continually surprising rhythm contributed greatly in its role as a rousing finale to a truly enlightening and interesting concert.