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Kennedy Center Chamber Players in Mozart, Hindemith, and Strauss

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R. Strauss, Piano Quartets - Complete Chamber Music, v. 1, Sawallisch et al.
The Kennedy Center Chamber Players’ fourth and final concert last Sunday at the Terrace Theater in this, their third season was given over to a wholly Germanic program with works from three centuries by Mozart, Richard Strauss, and Paul Hindemith. Lambert Orkis (piano), Marissa Regni (violin), Daniel Foster (viola), and David Hardy (cello) made for a promising beginning with the Mozart Piano Quartet in G minor, which got exquisite contributions from all four players. Unlike Orkis’s ornate and articulate speeches (although if wit is said to be found in brevity, he could well be a bit funnier, on occasion) it’s the music that one does not grow tired off, not even in this Mozart-enriched year.

Other Reviews:

Stephen Brookes, Kennedy Center Chamber Players (Washington Post, June 6)

Past Reviews on Ionarts:

Kennedy Center Chamber Players Knock the Wind out of Poulenc (February 19, 2006)

Kennedy Center Chamber Players (November 17, 2005)

Chamber Music at the Terrace Theater (September 24, 2005)
Part of the KCCP’s incidental survey of Hindemith’s sonatas (he supplied just about every instrument in the orchestra with one) will take a few more years at the current speed – assuming they aim at performing all 27 of them. Orkis and clarinetist Loren Kitt presented the sensitive Clarinet Sonata in B-flat Major which, once it opens itself to the listener, enters the ears as haunting, witty, seductive, hypnotizing, and surprisingly relaxed.

Of the big Romantic composers Bruckner, Mahler, and Strauss, all wrote a Piano Quar- or Quintet in their youth, all of them with plenty worth hearing – but of them the barely 20-year-old Strauss’s Piano Quartet in C Minor is the finest; much more than just a curiosity. It should not be too surprising because – pace Richard Freed’s comment to the contrary in the program notes – Strauss wrote quite a bit of chamber music, even if mostly in his youth and indeed largely without even assigning opus numbers to them. Again expertly played and easily capable of absorbing (indeed: benefiting from) Nurit Bar-Josef’s glowing, determined performance, the quintet is a big, emboldened work in the line of Brahms (Orkis assures there is plenty of Mendelssohn to be found in it – alas, somehow not to these ears). In this highly valuable and hopefully soon-to-be expanded series, it was the most successful of many good concerts I have heard so far.