The keynote was ensemble playing last night at the Library of Congress.
All of the eight young chamber musicians who performed are team players, gracefully blending strong individual talents into a superb collective effort. And after a couple weeks together, they have established an instinctive rapport that does wonders for the music. This does not mean that there was anything subdued or tentative about their playing; it was vigorous and precise, and risks were taken throughout the evening without the slightest sign of hesitation.
The high point of a program with no low points was Kodaly's Duo for violin and cello, Op. 7: music stripped to its essentials, but rich in Hungarian folk melodies and dance rhythms, vivid in color, constantly shifting in tone and accent. The dialogue between violinist Junko Ohtsu and cellist Evelyn Elsing in this music (particularly but not exclusively in its eloquent slow movement) was one of the most beautiful things I have heard this year.
Weber's Trio in G minor for flute, cello and piano opened the program--a work delicately poised between 18th-century grace and romantic warmth. Tchaikovsky's string sextet, "Souvenir de Florence," concluded it with vivid romantic intensity. In both works, as in the Kodaly, the performance was of the highest quality--better than one expects or receives from many ensembles that enjoy considerably more fame.