Yesterday afternoon's concert at Dumbarton United Methodist Church featured a group of deservedly big names about town: Toshiko Kohno, principal flutist of the National Symphony Orchestra, NSO principal oboist Rudolph Vrbsky, cellist Judith Serkin and pianist Andrew Litton. All joined in Bach's Trio Sonata in C Major, BMV 1037, which has been scored for numerous instrumental combinations. Their second movement was a fine display of controlled exuberance, with parts perfectly dovetailed as they hurtled along. The gigue began with canonic interplay of flute and oboe, but was flexible, suggesting the freedom of dancers. Serkin's sensitive phrasing and dynamics made the cello part more than just a bass line.
Serkin's legato could not have been smoother in parts of Haydn's Trio No. 29 in G Major for flute, cello and piano, but Litton seemed to lack direction at times. He was more assured with Kohno in Barto'k's "Suite paysanne hongroise," a potent combination of folk melodies transformed by the composer's powerful artistry. Kohno was effortlessly dazzling when appropriate, and her performance was gorgeous throughout.
Vrbsky's tone in Saint-Sae ns' Sonata, Op. 166, ranged from an exquisite, clear thread of a sound to a glowing, full-bodied voice that filled the chapel. The allegretto section, opening with a plaintive cry over sparse piano accompaniment, was one of many compelling moments in a performance that was marred only by one flawed run in the last movement.
The concert ended with a razzle-dazzle arrangement of the music of Rossini that could have made the Lone Ranger tap his feet.