Anticipation precedes every Kennedy Center visit by the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center: Which musicians from the organization's large core group will appear, and who will the guest artists be? Last night the guest list nearly equaled the number of full-fledged members.
Eliot Fisk headed this list, surpassing Society director Charles Wadsworth's hopeful spiel to the audience that the guitarist would "pluck his way into your hearts." But that wasn't enough in the central work, the Washington premiere of seven selections from "Mountain Songs" for guitar and flute, a work commissioned by Fisk and partner Paula Robison. Composer Robert Beaser's use of Appalachian folk music proved a dubious achievement at best -- a fine vehicle for performers to be sure, yet one that raises questions about the merit of reworking such tunes as "Barbara Allen" and "Hush-You-Bye."
Society members violinist James Buswell, cellist Leslie Parnas and pianist Lee Luvisi recently formed a separate trio, which seems to be a wise move considering their performance of Schubert's Piano Trio No. 2 in E-Flat. Tight-knit ensemble play showed the harmonic riches to best advantage in a piece that is symphonic in length and scope.