Friday, March 29, 2002
Outstanding chamber music concert in Concord
The Concord Chamber Music Society (CCMS) presented a spectacular concert last Sunday afternoon at the sold-out Concord Academy Performing Arts Center. World-renowned violinist Gil Shaham and musicians from the Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO) and the Muir Quartet performed chamber music by Haydn, Wieniawski, Prokofiev and Schubert. The enthusiastic audience of over 400 responded with a long, standing ovation and shouts of "Bravo!"
The program began with Joseph Haydn's "Trio in G Major, No.1 Opus 53," played by Shaham, BSO violist Cathy Basra, and Muir Quartet cellist Michael Reynolds. This was followed by two selections from Henri Wieniawski's "Etudes-Caprices for Violin," and Serge Prokofiev's "Sonata for Two Violins, Opus 56." Shaham and Wendy Putnam, violinist with the BSO, combined their talents in stirring and emotional performances of these complex and marvelous duets. These two young musicians have been friends since they met at a summer music camp 17 years ago.
After the intermission, former BSO cellist Ronald Feldman joined the others in a magnificent performance of Franz Schubert's "Quintet in C Major, D. 956."
The appearance in Concord of Gil Shaham, recently cited by conductor André Previn as the best male violinist in the world, was particularly special. His playing was delicate or energetic, as the music demanded, but always electrifying. This electricity was sensed by the audience and the other musicians, resulting in a sensational concert experience for everyone in the hall.
When you listen to a group of world-class string players you expect to hear extraordinary sound. We were not disappointed. Fortes were grand and full. Pianissimos were delicate, yet still so sonorous that we were brought to the edges of our seats. As Shaham played his "Countess Polignac" Stradivarius, built in 1699, and Putnam her "new" (built in 2000 by Anton Kruz) violin in the duets, the audience was swept away by the wonderful combination of the mellow tones of the Strad and the edgy, yet warm sounds of the Kruz.
Before the concert Steven Ledbetter, lately the musicologist and program annotator for the BSO, presented an interesting and informative commentary on the music which was about to be played. Especially noteworthy was his portrayal of the Schubert "Quintet." He said that it was one of the three greatest chamber works ever created. Its composition and harmonies were far in advance of any music that was being written during Schubert's time.
Wendy Putnam, who lives in Carlisle, is the director of the CCMS, which she founded in 2000. CCMS presents a series of four chamber music concerts in Concord each season, featuring professional artists and chamber ensembles. The society is also committed to community outreach and education. Recent activities have included musicians' visits to classrooms and a public master class given by BSO concertmaster Malcolm Lowe.
CCMS has just established a Distinguished Artist's Fund. This was announced at a champagne reception following the concert. The Fund is intended to underwrite one concert each season featuring a world-renowned guest artist or chamber ensemble. The standard set at last Sunday's concert gives the Concord-Carlisle community something wonderful to look forward to in coming years. Our hats are off to Wendy Putnam, the driving force behind this new musical treasure.
© 2002 The Carlisle Mosquito