Monday, May 21, 2012

Disappointing Season Finale

The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center season-finale-d with a somewhat strange program of French music. Two works by Saint-Saëns and, after the intermission, one by Ernest Chausson. Not exactly the way to go out with a bang. The program was neither populist nor adventurous, and so it fell between the stools.

I know Camille Saint-Saëns through his symphonies, and so was keen to hear his Trio No. 1 in F Major for Piano, Violin, and Cello (1864) and his Sonata No. 1 in D minor for Violin and Piano (1885). As the date indicates, the Trio was a youthful work. I did not care very much for it. I did enjoy the piano-playing of Juho Pohjonen, and was glad that he returned for the Sonata. He and violinist Elmar Oliveira made a fine pair. The music of the Sonata was captivating, and the musicians gave a passionate account of it. Someone three seats away described Saint-Saëns as an academician. There was nothing academic, however, about the performance, my neighbor and I agreed afterwards.

The Chausson work was Concerto in D major for Violin, Piano and String Quartet (1889-91). The performance suffered from a lack of intimate and intuitive understanding between the musicians. Everyone was doing his or her own thing. The difficult score became a mere technical challenge, a hurdles course.

This concert is the second programming disappointment in a row. I don't think I will be subscribing to the Chamber Music Society again for the next season.

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