BEETHOVEN FESTIVAL PARK CITY, Park City Community Church, July 26; festival continues through Aug. 20, tickets at www.pcmusicfestival.com
Carl Frühling was an Austrian composer of a number of exceptional chamber works. Johannes Brahms liked his music and championed him, but Frühling’s inability or disinterest in adapting to changing musical tastes in the early years of the 20th century put an end to his career, and he died in poverty in 1937.
One of Frühling’s best works is the Trio for Clarinet, Cello and Piano, a work imbued with thematic inventiveness and the richly romantic harmonic language of the late 19th century.
The trio was on Thursday’s Beethoven Festival Park City concert played by clarinetist Russell Harlow, cellist Mark Kosower and pianist Jee-Won Oh. They gave a very musical account that underscored the expressiveness and finely crafted lyricism of the work. Their playing was well defined and nuanced and sensitive to subtle shifts in tone color and dynamics.
The other two composers on the program Thursday have never been out of favor with musicians and audiences: Ralph Vaughan Williams and Ludwig van Beethoven.
Vaughan Williams’ On Wenlock Edge is a wonderfully lyrical setting of six poems by A.E. Housman for tenor, string quartet and piano. Tenor Tyler Nelson, whose transparent, expressive voice is well suited for bringing out the exquisite lyricism of this piece, gave a nuanced account that was subtle and textured. The poignancy he brought to his part was mirrored by the instrumentalists. Accompanying Nelson were violinists Paul Rosenthal and Alexander Woods and violist Leslie Harlow, joined by Kosower and Oh. Their playing was cohesive and there was a fine balance between the instruments and the voice. Neither overpowered the other and they all meshed wonderfully together.
The same kind of seamless ensemble playing was evident in the final work on the concert, Beethoven’s String Quartet in E flat, op. 74, Harp, which reunited the four string players. They brought passion and romantic expressiveness to their reading. They delved into the nuances of the score and played with richly defined lyricism and poetic sensitivity.