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October 07, 1986 - Image 9

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The Michigan Daily, 1986-10-07

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ARTS

The Michigan Daily

Tuesday, October 7, 1986

Page.9

. . . , .. _ . . .. . ..

Chamber Music Society

pleases
By Debra Shreve
In the opening concert of the
season for its Chamber Arts Series,
the University Musical Society
welcomed the Chamber Music
Society of Lincoln Center to
Rackham Auditorium last Sunday.
Since its inception, the So-ciety
has been credited with spawning a
} "large-scale revival of chamber
music throughout the country."
They perform just over half their
concerts in Lincoln Center, but
every fall and spring since 1975,
the Society has sent a rotating set
of six "ambassadors" on U.S. tours.
The Society is composed of
eighteen permanent personnel, each
of them un-deniably a member of
the music world elite, the very top
of their profession, and with a
particularly fine reputation for
chamber music.
With Charles Wadsworth at the
helm, the Society has not only
toured the U.S. and abroad 'as well,
but has made several exceptional
recordings, expanded its sub -

Rackham crowd

scription concert schedule in New
York, commissioned 65 new
compositions, and directed a series
of workshops for New York high
school students. The Society is,
more or less, on a "chamber music
mission," hoping to promote new
appreciation for forms often
regarded as elite or snobbish. In
fact, part of their officially stated
purpose is to "bring together from
all parts of the world strong
musical personalities whose
combination and interaction will
create new excitement in chamber
music performance," and to
"provide a comprehensive survey of
chamber music literature, including
not only repertoire for standard
combinations, but also lesser-
known works for unusual combin-
ations of instruments."
According to Sunday's perfor -
mance, they are certainly succeed -
ing. One quick perusal through the
program credits, for example,
proved that "strong musical
personalities" is even a rather limp
way of describing at least these six
of the eighteen Society members.

All of them have established inter -
national careers, most of them
having launched these careers with
the most impressive youthful
accomplishments. (Paul Neubauer,
for example, became the youngest
principal violist in the history of
the New York Philharmonic two
years ago, at age 21.) The
program, also, reflected the
Society's commitment to a
comprehensive representation of the
chamber music repertoire, including
Poulenc's Sonata for Oboe and
Piano, the Mozart Trio in E-flat K.
498 for Viola, Clarinet, and Piano,
Bartok's "Contrasts," and the Piano
Quartet No. 1 by Gabriel Faure.
All of these works, from the
eighteenth century Mozart Trio to
the twentieth century Poulenc, were
given, without question, excellent
performances. The most interesting
work on the program, however, was
the not-often-performed "Con -
trasts," scored for violin, clarinet,
and piano. Bartok composed this
suite of three pieces in 1938 on a
commission from violinist Joseph
Szigeti and clarinetist Benny
Goodman. The piece ends up
sounding somewhat American, in
fact, even while revealing Bartok's
typical Hungarian influences.
James Buswell, violinist, and
Gervase de Peyer, clarinetist, along
with pianist Lee Luvisi, had the
opportunity to try their hand at
Bartok's crazy sound effects and
tonal innovations, and their
energetic reading showed that
Bartok, when played well, is not
without a sense of humor.
If the Chamber Music Society's
presentation Sunday fell short in
any way, it was, perhaps, in a lack
of some of that excitement they
hope to create in chamber music
performance. The gloom in
Rackham Auditorium may have
been the problem, or the fairly
sparse audience. But chamber
music at any rate requires a more

I Deidre McCalla appears tonight at the Ark.

W ..

Look

War-

into the -
IAiidigan

personable rapport between
musicians and audience, an extra
effort to overcome the formality of
the large hall--in which chamber
music is not, ideally, meant to be
performed. The Society musicians
are the finest professionals, of
course, but perhaps, in this case,
they need not have maintained their
flawless professional manner. If
they were enjoying them -
selves-and I trust they were
-they were rather modest about
letting the audience in on the fun.
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