Fort Worth — The Chamber Music Society of Fort Worth presented a delightful concert on Saturday afternoon in the concert hall in the Modern Art Museum. It was of interest because of who played the main work on the program, which came after intermission, which was the glorious Piano Quartet No. 3, Op. 60 in C Minor by Brahms. It was a family affair, drawn from two families. One was a married couple: Gary Levinson, artistic director of the society and his pianist wife Baya Kakouberi. The other was a pair of brothers: Cellist Andrés Díaz and violist Roberto Díaz.
Levinson and Kakouberi are distinguished-Dallas based musicians and well known to audiences in the Metroplex. Levinson is the Senior Associate Concertmaster of the Dallas Symphony. The Chilean-American brothers have amazing résumés.
Andres Díaz won the First Prize in the 1986 Naumburg International Cello Competition, and is on the faculty at Southern Methodist University.
Roberto Díaz is equally well known for his viola playing and his “day job.” He is the president/director of the Curtis Institute of Music. Among his past credits, he was the principal violist of the Philadelphia Orchestra. He was also in the National Symphony under Mstislav Rostropovich.
The brothers also play in the Díaz Trio with another CMSFW favorite, violinist Andrés Cárdenes.
The program opened with Mozart’s Duo for Violin and Viola in G Major played by Levinson and Roberto Díaz. Rumor has it that Mozart wrote this duet, and another one, to help a colleague who had a commission to write four such duos, and wrote two of them. However, he was too ill to compose the other two, so Mozart dashed off two and gave them to his friend.
The overall impression, other than what a fine performance the two delivered, was how wonderfully Mozart wrote for such a limited resource as only two instruments. They intertwined throughout the piece and the listener never once thought that Mozart wanted a larger ensemble. Of course, in lesser hands, the excellent balance between the two players might not have the same effect.
Next up was the other Díaz brother, joined by Kakouberi, playing Three Fantasiestücke for Cello and Piano by Robert Schumann. The last time I heard this piece it featured a clarinetist; it was originally written for that instrument.
Andres Díaz must have had this in mind as he played with a warm sound and kept the feeling of color that a clarinet can deliver.
The Brahms is one of the standard works in the repertoire and is always a joy to hear. All four artists had surely played the work many times with many different people. As a result, the ensemble and intonation was right on throughout. The strings sometimes overplayed Brahms’ dynamics. This can be forgiven by watching the joy of playing this familiar piece with family.