Saturday night at the Kennedy Center the Lincoln Center Chamber Music Society offered a concert that was, as they say in the world of technology, the state of the art in the field. Sparked by the sensitive cello playing of guest artist Nathaniel Rosen and the agile grace of pianist-member Andre'-Michel Schub, the ensemble gave a classic demonstration of what makes chamber music the connoisseur's passion and the amateur's delight.
The first American cellist to gain the Tchaikovsky Gold Medal in Moscow and a Naumberg Competition winner, Rosen deserves to be far more widely known. Guided by a finely cultivated sensitivity, he quietly pursues the highest standards without resort to expressive excesses or display. (This lack of flamboyance may explain the relatively slow development of his reputation among the general public.) Far from unemotional, however, he infuses every line with a vibrant interior force. This quality proved particularly effective in his handling of the Jewish Theme of Copland's "Vitebsk," which received a charged performance from Rosen, pianist Charles Wadsworth and violinist James Buswell.
Rosen's partnership with pianist Schub, who was the other inspiriting genius of the evening, in Chopin's G-minor Sonata, Op. 65, produced radiant musicianship. Schub's singing tone and virtuosic lightness of touch made the piano seem as flexible a melodic instrument as the cello. With each inspiring the other, the two artists reached a peak of poetic eloquence in the simple, song-like exchanges of the slow third movement.
Turning the nonstop piano part into delicate child's play, Schub and his partners Rosen, Buswell and violist Walter Trampler brought the program to a flowing close with Mendelssohn's B-minor Quartet. From the opening Haydn trio, given an exquisite performance by flutists Paula Robison and Carol Wincenc and Rosen, it was a night of consummate music-making.