New York Concert Review Inc.
Highlights from the Review by Frank Daykin
If Thursday’s concert of high-school age chamber musicians is any indication, the state of classical chamber music is very healthy in Southern California (and, I hope, elsewhere!). A large array of dedicated students, all excellently coached, performed a wide variety of repertoire with skill ranging from good to very good to “wow.”
For me, the two “wow” moments occurred in the last two works on the program. First, an astonishingly mature string quartet who performed the first movement of Grieg’s rarely heard String Quartet in G minor, Op. 27. The players (Jason Corbin, Alisa Luera, David Noble, and Jonathan Kim) created a fierce, plush, ensemble sound that would be the envy of many a mature professional group; they breathed and phrased perfectly together; and they managed to make Grieg’s somewhat rambling structure sound inevitable and musically coherent and compelling.
The other “wow” moment was provided by a piano four-hand team playing the duet transcription of Ravel’s La Valse made by Ravel’s friend Lucien Garban. This team (Nicholas Mendez and Yoko Rosenbaum) played with all the flair and assurance of a professional piano duo, fabulously unified. Their comprehension of this difficult score was superb; the only quality lacking was a bit more freedom and Viennese upbeat. Nevertheless, a definite “wow.”
Other highlights included: a fleet, precise rendition of the final movement of Beethoven’s First Piano Trio; cellist William Ellzey’s excellent communication skill in the first movement of Brahms’ Trio for Clarinet, Cello and Piano; Martinů’s Sonata for Flute, Violin and Piano; the first movement of Schoenfield’s Café Music; Raymond Newell’s cello in the Brahms Second Cello Sonata.
Sometimes the age of the participants showed an inability to inhabit fully the emotional message of the selected repertoire. However, the fact that they are playing such difficult material with technical fluency is in itself a thing to behold (and support).
I wish I had had these opportunities when I was a young student. I salute you all, and your fine teachers, coaches, and schools.
Artist's NameDr. Susan Boettger