Kennedy Center Chamber Players conclude Nordic Cool festival with exuberance


Danish lighting designer Jesper Kongshaug projects the Northern Lights on all four sides of the Kennedy Center's walls. The projection was part of the center’s month-long Nordic Cool 2013 exhibition. (Astrid Riecken/For The Washington Post)

The Kennedy Center Chamber Players brought their eponymous venue’s month-long Nordic Cool festival to an end Sunday evening at the Terrace Theater with vibrant performances of a Carl Nielsen composition, a 19th-century octet and a 20th-century quintet.

Scored for clarinet, bassoon, horn, cello and double bass, Nielsen’s “Serenata in vano” is an eight-minute work that the Danish composer wrote in 1914 as a “humorous trifle.” The Chamber Players, composed of National Symphony Orchestra musicians, attacked it with brilliant technique and intonation.

Cellist David Hardy and bassist Robert Oppelt led off the Serenata with a steady gait, while clarinetist Eugene Mondie traded seductive melodic lines with bassoonist Sue Heineman. Laurel Ohlson’s horn tied it all together with impressive musical swells.

For Prokofiev’s Quintet in G Minor, Op. 39, violinist Marissa Regni, violist Daniel Foster and oboist Nicholas Stovall joined Oppelt and Mondie for a performance that captured the work’s episodic nature. The winds wove melodies over the mechanical churning of the lower strings and eventually rippled their way in unison runs with the violin. They excelled in the pulsating fourth movement, where their sounds unfolded in a deliberate and mysterious way.

With violinist Pamela Hentges filling out the strings, the Chamber Players took turns in an exuberant read of Schubert’s Octet in F, D. 803, Op. 166. Expressing every phrase meticulously, cellist Hardy coaxed the winds and strings into a warm, gentle balance.

For Prokofiev’s Quintet in G Minor, Op. 39, violinist Marissa Regni, violist Daniel Foster and oboist Nicholas Stovall, above, joined Oppelt and Mondie for a performance that captured the work’s episodic nature. (Courtesy of the Kennedy Center)

Jean is a freelance writer.

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