For Art’s Sake

Tuesdays at Eight, with members of the Music Academy faculty

At the Lobero Theatre, Tuesday, July 25.

Reviewed by Gerald Carpenter

The concert opened with Wolfgang Mozart’s ineffably sweet Oboe Quartet in F Major, K. 370, played by David Weiss, oboe, Kathleen Winkler, violin, Donald McInnes, viola, and Alan Stepansky, cello. With the possible exception of the Clarinet Quintet, this is my favorite of all Mozart’s chamber works, and this group’s reading rivals the four recordings I have of it.

Talk about “and now for something completely different”! Martin Wesley-Smith’s White Knight and Beaver for Trombone, Marimba, and Tape — superbly rendered by Mark Lawrence (trombone) and Michael Werner (percussion) — was about as different as you could get. Still, for all its eccentric time signatures and odd noises, it was full of nifty tunes and even tenderness, and I would very much like to hear it again.

Béla Bartók’s Contrasts for violin, clarinet, and piano, BB 116, also has its share of eccentricity, but in the hands of Jeff Thayer (violin), Fred Ormand (clarinet), and Jerome Lowenthal (piano), the Hungarian’s penchant for irritating mischief was kept to a minimum, and his ability to charm and entertain was enhanced.

Georges Enescu’s Legend for Trumpet and Piano started the second half. As played by Paul Merkelo (trumpet) and Anne Epperson (piano), the piece was engagingly folksy and gloriously romantic.

The Takács Quartet went a long way toward redeeming itself from the lackluster pall its recent concert cast on my spirits with the support of Epperson in performing Antonín Dvořák’s Piano Quintet in A Major, B. 155, Opus 81. Dvořák likes to use the piano percussively — even in his piano concertos — as a vehicle for abrupt shifts of mood. Witness, in this Quintet, how the wonderfully lugubrious, heart-on-sleeve opening theme is snatched away from us, before we can properly settle in, by an extended rush of arpeggios. Then back to an even grander statement of the melancholy theme, then off we go again. The fact that this was accomplished with tremendous élan and seamless coordination by Epperson and the Takács Quartet paved the way for a remarkable musical experience.

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