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At the concert on 22 June 2007, faculty and students both took turns on stage. The level of playing proved equally splendid by both groups. The Gallic charm of Fauré's Piano Quartet No 1 in C minor Op 15 was given incendiary passion by Levin, Buswell, Hoebig, and Robert Vernon, principal viola of the Cleveland Orchestra. The lively, Ravel-tinged wit and eccentricity of the Scherzo: Allegro vivo was vividly conveyed while the rapturous Allegro molto finale emerged with lush, scintillating tonal hues. (Vernon may be the finest viola principal in any major American orchestra.)

In the student postlude, an excellent wind contingent gave a delightful performance of the Overture and two excerpts from Mozart's Magic Flute. Their playing brought sparkle to these rarely encountered wind band arrangements. An energetic version of the Allegro vivace from Poulenc's Sextet for Piano and Winds (1932-39) spotlighted Bo-Kyung Park's pianistic energy and Jill K Bartels' exceptional dexterity and tonal heft in the exposed horn part. (Both are students at the Cleveland Institute of Music.)

The opening Allegro Moderato, Tres doux from Ravel's String Quartet received sensuous treatment from violinists So Young Bae and Hong Ji-Kim, violist Katerina Istomin (all students at New York's Juilliard School) and cellist Peter Myers (from the Colburn Conservatory in Los Angeles). The musicians' technically secure, fluent playing belied any student designation. The concluding Theme russe: Allegro from Beethoven's String Quartet No 7 in F, Op 59 No 1 was nothing short of incandescent in the hands of violinists David Coucheron and Linda Barlund, violist Luke Fleming, and cellist Elizabeth Chung (all from Juilliard). Their silken tone and superbly nuanced playing surpassed the work of many well-established quartets. At an afternoon musicale, the first movement -- Adagio-Allegro Vivace -- of Mendelssohn's String Quartet No 2 in A minor Op 13 was delivered with intense urgency by another impressive string contingent -- violinist Sean Lee and violist Jessica Oudin (Juilliard), violinist Mattieu Arama ( Boston's Longy School of Music), and cellist Myers. The level of string playing was quite astounding!

Earlier in the evening Rimsky-Korsakov's Piano Quintet in B flat major (1876) proved a quirky novelty. With some lovely lyrical writing for piano and winds, bravura cadenzas, and witty fugal invention, this score certainly casts its composer in an unfamiliar light. The whimsical theme of the final Rondo: Allegretto could well have been penned by Prokofiev four decades later. The terrific musicianship of Starr, Buyse, Cohen, bassoonist John Miller, and horn player Froydis Ree Wekre delivered a stellar performance. Wekre's gorgeous tone and agility were remarkable.

Despite some initial horn problems, Mozart's Divertimento No 7 in D K205 was a sprightly opener. Arm, Vernon, and bassist Gregory Hustis were particularly resplendent in a vivacious version of the Presto finale.

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Copyright © 10 July 2007 Lawrence Budmen, Miami Beach, USA


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