by Robert Rollin
The intimate and atmospheric Western Reserve Academy Chapel (1836) provided a beautiful setting for the Hudson Chamber Players’ excellent Sunday August 4th afternoon concert. The group showed itself to be remarkably well prepared and accomplished. The afternoon’s highpoint was a beautifully nuanced performance of Robert Schumann’s Piano Quintet in E flat major, Op. 44. The piece is one of the Schumann’s greatest chamber works, and indeed ranks very highly among all nineteenth-century chamber music. Pianist Elizabeth DeMio played the challenging solo part with power and sensitivity, and the string quartet balanced very effectively.
The quintet opened full force to an amazingly harmonically rich and brilliant tutti. The small hall resonated with the group’s fine sound. At the onset of the second theme, the cello and viola took the lead in a plaintively beautiful question and answer dialogue. The performance was worthy of this masterpiece. When the piano did not preside, it always had lovely passage work accompanying the strings. The wonderful late Romantic chromatic harmony, often borrowed from parallel keys, kept the music pulsating forcefully. [Read more…]