The makeup of the Jupiter Symphony Chamber Players -- violin, viola, cello, bass, clarinet, French horn and bassoon -- gives them access to a repertoire that isn't often heard. For instance, the highlight of their program at the National Academy of Sciences Auditorium on Sunday was a Rossini Duo for Cello and Bass, a wonderfully playful romp that had those two deep-voiced heavyweights engaged in scenes that could have been straight from one of Rossini's operas featuring arias, swordplay and coloratura posturing.
Cellist Ani Aznavoorian and bassist Kurt Muroki teased each other through the dancelike finale, beginning each repetition of the dance barely audibly and, oh so slowly, gathering momentum and dynamic energy as they chased each other through to the blistering conclusion. Cellists are known for their technical agility but bassists are rarely challenged this way, and Muroki made it sound astonishingly easy.
The program opened with a transcription for clarinet and strings of a piece originally written for violin and piano, done by Mozart himself or possibly arranged by one of his publishers. There were nice moments, in particular the wonderfully quiet and portentous upbeats in the Andante second movement, which clarinetist Vadim Lando and violinist Philippe Quint handled with gorgeous control.
The Beethoven Septet that ended the program is the work of a composer who was trying out a whole arsenal of styles, techniques and idioms. It is too long. Nevertheless the musicians of the Jupiter ensemble had fun with it. The conversations between the winds and the strings were nicely balanced, and the finale, the one movement that really seems to hint at where Beethoven was headed, got a first-rate, adventurous and passionate reading.
-- Joan Reinthaler