It is more than a bit perverse to program chamber music at Wolf Trap. With birds singing, babies crying and jets flying, the intimacy of a small musical ensemble is lost in the vast and loud spaces of the Filene Center. When a chamber group can conquer these challenges, it is a great tribute to their artistry. The Concert Soloists of Wolf Trap earned such tribute yesterday afternoon.
The program was all French, with musical pastels from Roussel, Debussy, Faure, Ravel and Ibert. Flutist Gary Schocker scored a personal triumph in the Trio for Flute, Viola and Cello by Albert Roussel. From the opening allegro, his performance was full of innocence and charm, his flute singing with the sounds of a boy soprano in very good voice. His technique is still a little cold, but the nervous insistence of the third movement was negotiated with elan and excitement. In the piece that followed, a too-short "Syrinx" for solo flute by Claude Debussy, Schocker had the playful air that the work demands, and brought out all mystery reminiscent of the composer's "Faun" with playing so deliberately cloudy that it almost overcame the hot sun outside.
Gabriel Faure's Sonata for Violin and Piano in A Major gave the afternoon its romanticism. Lynn Chang's dynamic control on the violin is not all that one could wish, but artistic director Earl Wild brought his intelligence and musicality to his heroic piece. Heorics were not there for Ravel's Sonata for Violin and Cello, which was rough going for Chang and cellist Charles Curtis. Ravel's idle threats against traditional tonality were made stronger by Curtis' playing, at once intriguing and erratic.
After all the musical French pastries of the afternoon, the day ended with junk food: a Trio for Violin, Cello and Harp by Jacques Ibert, the forefather of elevator music. Chang, Curtis and harpist Gloria Agostini all caught the spirit of the piece in unabashed fashion, and the concert came to a close on a definitely light and happy note.