The Lincoln Center Chamber Music Society's entire program at the Kennedy Center Saturday evening bore the stamp of guest violinist Josef Suk. Playing with a flowing musicality worthy of the great-grandson of Dvora'k--which indeed he is--the Czech artist inspired a performance of exceptional purity and eloquence.
The evening itself was a celebration of the expressive richness that lies in the exploitation of harmonic colors. Appropriately, it opened with a small gem by Suk's grandfather, who also bore the name Josef Suk. Entitled "Elegy for Violin, Cello and Piano," the brief piece derived its effect from the bold chordal shifts underlying its main theme, lovingly spun out by Suk. "Cypresses Nos. 2, 9 and 11," three slight yet exquisite Dvora'k selections, possessed a similar quality. A reworking for string quartet of a series of songs, the music mainly offered Suk an additional opportunity to demonstrate the sweet, singing quality of his tone.
Joined by pianist Charles Wadsworth and cellist Leslie Parnas, Suk presented a provocative Haydn Trio, the E-flat Major, Hob. XV:30. Written only a few years before Beethoven went to Vienna to study under Haydn, the trio in its complex writing and daring harmonic moves anticipates the path that the pupil was to take. Uncharacteristically, Wadsworth's touch was too heavy in the first movement, but the balance righted itself in the remaining two.
Schubert's C-Major String Quintet, the ultimate in expressive use of harmony, closed the concert. Responding to Suk's clean, agile style, the ensemble projected an interpretation of extraordinary clarity and precision. The rich texture took on a special transparency and the interweaving lines, so often lost in a sea of vibratos, became wondrously clear. Without lingering, the interpretation nonetheless seemed spacious. Cellist Leslie Parnas, in particular, succeeded in matching the focus and projection of Suk's playing.