Friday night’s concert of chamber works at Dallas City Performance Hall, the first concert of Chamber Music International’s season, featured some of the most delicious, juiciest Dvořák heard in that hall in a while.
Pianist Alexandre Moutouzkine, violinist Carmit Zori, violist Atar Arad and cellist Bion Tsang collaborated for an at turns moving, exciting, and lyrical Piano Quartet in E flat Major in the second half of Friday’s program. All four musicians pointedly emphasized Dvořák’s quirkier harmonies, especially in the first movement, helping listeners to hear aspects of the piece that might have eluded them in previous encounters. In the second movement, Tsang’s lyrical solo passages were as gorgeous and nuanced as they should have been, and the fourth movement was ferociously electrifying. The concert was well worth attending just to hear this piece.
Alexandre Moutouzkine began the program with three of Rachmaninoff’s Op. 23 Preludes: No. 1 in F sharp Minor, No. 11 in G flat Major, and No. 5 in G Minor. The No. 1 is contemplative and subtle; Moutouzkine’s delicate phrasing was exemplary here as well as in the No. 11. The No. 5, with its thundering bass, is much more virtuosic, and its character borders on bombast. Moutouzkine achieved high-Romantic ardor here perfectly, without making it a caricature of itself.
The evening’s performance of Mozart’s Divertimento in E flat Major for Violin, Viola, and Cello was somewhat more mixed. There were many glorious moments throughout the six movements, including Atar Arad’s utterly gorgeous and substantial viola sound. Especially in the first movement Allegro, the members of the trio did not seem to have the same ideas about tempo, and there were some intonation problems. Still, by the final movement, violinist Carmit Zori tackled especially difficult passages with cleanness and precision.
These are four top-level musicians each with a substantively different style and approach. Watching them work together, even when the results were somewhat imperfect, as in the Mozart, was a lesson in how to approach collaborative musicianship. Listening to them play the Dvořák, in contrast, was a lesson in how music should be.
Friday’s concert was dedicated to violinist Ik-Hwan Bae, a frequent collaborator with CMI, who died this year at the age of 57.