Red wine and chocolate cannot compare to an evening of chamber music at the Museum of Natural History’s charming Fleischmann Auditorium. Under Tuesday night’s starry sky, the Santa Barbara Chamber Orchestra put on a lovely program featuring conductor Heiichiro Ohyama on the viola.

The first piece, Felix Mendelssohn’s dreamy Piano Quartet No. 2 in F minor, enchanted with sweeping melodies and rhythmic delicacy. Violinist Sooah Kim’s tender touch is commendable, her unrestrained performance indicative of love’s turbulence. Cellist Paula Fehrenbach’s talents were both moving and praiseworthy, her bow comparable to Cupid’s arrow. Calm and dignified, pianist Yi Dong steadied the emotive voices of his fellow players as Mendelssohn’s musical love letter unfolded.

The program’s cerebral second half featured Robert Schumann’s amorous Dichterliebe, a song cycle of 16 pieces paired with the influential poetics of Heinrich Heine’s Lyrisches Intermezzo. UCSB drama professor Simon Williams narrated the song cycle’s verbalisms with delicate theatrics to the meditative sounds of viola and piano, illustrating a timeless love story. A testimony to the intimate relationship between literature and music, the concert was an enlightening Valentine’s Day experience that satisfied all the couples in the audience, and lovers of music and poetry alike.


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