Twelve young musicians from the Music Festival in Aspen, Colo., brought enthusiasm and affection to an evening of chamber music last night in the Kennedy Center's Terrace Theater.
There was beautiful sound and perceptive playing from the Aspen Wind Quintet in Samuel Barber's Summer Music. In one of his last interviews, Barber complained that passages in this lovely work were often taken too slowly. Last night's pacing would have pleased Barber with its sensitive feeling for the subtle shifts that are keys to the inner mood of the work.
Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg and Sandra Rivers were in good technical command of the Faure Sonata in A Major for violin and piano. Rivers plays with an effortless ease that gave the rippling piano figurations just the right shape, and when she called for a larger sonority her tone had a thrill. Sonnenberg matched the piano with style and a lovely lyrical sound. But both artists took the scherzo a hair's breadth too fast so that it sounded scrambled, with some damage to the kind of sound the violin should have produced. The finale, too, was slightly on the fast side, which robbed the music of its rightful grace.
For Dvorak's A Major Piano Quintet, the Chester Quartet was joined by a remarkable pianist, Duane Hulbert. His leadership and feeling for ensemble, often noted in his turning to watch his colleagues as he played, was a bulwark in a solid performance. Thomas Rosenberg's cello was a thing of beauty in the opening melody. There were passages, however, notably in the dumka , where the intonation from the strings was somewhat off the mark.