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-- Daniel Ginsberg
Kennedy Center Chamber Players
Cellist David Hardy and pianist Lambert Orkis exemplified the best aspects of chamber music performance during the Kennedy Center Chamber Players concert Friday evening at the Library of Congress.
The duo presented Grieg's Sonata in A Minor, Op. 36, in exquisite detail with a thrilling, suspenseful drama. They played with an intimate familiarity of the music but made it sound spontaneous, as though discovering it for the first time. Whether conveying a dreamy, atmospheric backdrop for an emotional melodic line or engaging in a witty repartee, the musicians imparted delight to their partnership.
Nurit Bar-Josef and Marissa Regni forged a similar connection in Prokofiev's Sonata in C for Two Violins, Op. 56. They volleyed two-note motifs with the velocity of table tennis players and added inflections of anguish to the plaintive melodies before spinning away in the rustic finale.
Such a collaborative first half by the National Symphony principal players set up high expectations for Mendelssohn's Octet for Strings in E-flat, Op. 20. But its performance -- often top-heavy with imperfections in intonation and technical cleanliness -- lacked cohesion, resembling a solo violin work with string accompaniment more than the composer's suggestion of a symphony. Still, there were some exciting moments by Bar-Josef, Regni, Hardy and colleagues -- violists Daniel Foster and Abigail Evans, violinists Ricardo Cyncynates and Natasha Bogachek and cellist Glenn Garlick. The Scherzo, in particular, was stylish with a light pixie-dust quality that the ensemble excelled at in all four movements.
-- Grace Jean
Like many artists, Mexican cellist Carlos Prieto found that after a while it was not enough just to perform wonderfully, and so for years he has worked to broaden the instrument's repertoire with a wide spectrum of Latin American music.