On Sunday at the Terrace Theater, the Kennedy Center Chamber Players paid tribute to two neglected music makers. One was a composer, Max Bruch. The other was a woodwind, the bassoon. By the recital’s end, both Bruch and bassoon emerged freshly appreciated.
Bruch, whose devotion to 19th-century romanticism increasingly marginalized him during his later life in the 20th century, is known best for a couple of violin concertos. But a selection from “Eight Pieces” for clarinet, viola and piano proved ravishingly lovely on Sunday. Clarinetist Loren Kitt’s assertive attacks tended to eclipse Daniel Foster’s more soft-spoken viola playing, but the two of them — together with Lambert Orkis giving rhapsodic reign to Bruch’s keyboard writing — phrased this music with the zeal of true believers.
If the clarinet hasn’t wanted for eloquent music of its own, the bassoon has often been overlooked as a solo-worthy star. Bassoonist Sue Heineman helped remedy that situation by performing a transcription (compiled from several transcriptions) of Prokofiev’s D-Major Violin Sonata, Op. 94 (itself a transcription of a previous flute sonata).
Heineman(again with Orkis, a superb partner) erased any memory of violin in this score, with dazzlingly athletic treatment of some fiendishly difficult runs, and playing of melting loveliness in the music’s more lyrical passages.
Beethoven’s “Archduke Trio” has never wanted for attention, and the reading it received at the hands of Orkis, violinist Marissa Regni and cellist David Hardy emphasized its lithe classicism with lean, silvery tones from the strings and the radiance in Beethoven’s writing beautifully coaxed from the piano.
Banno is a freelance writer.