WESTMINSTER COLLEGE CONCERT SERIES, VIEVE GORE CONCERT HALL, WESTMINSTER COLLEGE, OCT. 17
If the Westminster Concert Series isn’t on your radar, it should be. Monday evening’s concert of romantic chamber music, in Westminster’s beautiful Vieve Gore Concert Hall, featured some of the state’s top performers in a well prepared and artistically mature performance of two classics: Schubert’s String Quintet in C major and Dvořák’s Piano Quintet in A major.
For a performer, playing chamber music is a bit like being under a microscope. Small imperfections in the sound that would normally be swallowed up in an orchestral performance are laid bare in a chamber setting. It takes performers with solid technical ability and plenty of confidence to create excellent chamber performances, and that’s exactly the type of performers that Westminster brought to the stage.
First on the program was the Schubert. Scored for two violins, viola and two cellos, this unusual combination of instruments yielded a warm yet articulate chamber sound. The ensemble was made up of seasoned veteran performers Lun Jiang and David Porter on violin, Roberta Zalkind on viola, Pegsoon Whang on cello, with newcomer Matt Zalkind (son of Roberta) rounding out the ensemble on cello. Remarkably, Matt Zalkind joined the group of veterans and made it look easy. His playing had a lyrical charm and a technical prowess that seriously impressed, while effortlessly integrating into the sound of the group.
For the Dvořák, Jiang, Porter, Roberta Zalkind, and Whang were joined by Westminster Professor of Music Karlyn Bond on piano. Her playing added a welcome new color to the sound of the strings, and was remarkable in its restraint and expressiveness. She seemed to form a reliable core to the ensemble sound that the other musicians were always able to rely upon.
While the performers were all experienced professionals, perhaps the most extraordinary quality in the music I heard was the deeply connected unity of the ensemble. Most often, the interpretation of the scores seemed as though it was coming from a single mind, rather than five separate sources. The rhythms seemed so tight, the harmonies so pure and the dynamics so animated that one couldn’t help but leave the concert hall inspired by the six dedicated people who came together to play exquisite music.