Philip Lewis,
Artistic Director


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An innovative mix - CMI charms with Spohr, Barber and Brahms
12:01 AM CDT on Saturday, May 1, 2004


By OLIN CHISM / The Dallas Morning News
RICHARDSON -- Chamber Music International rarely ventures into modern repertory, but within its chosen area it still manages to come up with offbeat music.

For instance, Friday night at the Eisemann Center it programmed a duo for two violins by Ludwig Spohr, a man who's not much more than a footnote in music-history texts, and a pre-adolescent piano quartet by Mendelssohn. More familiar repertory by Samuel Barber and Brahms rounded out the evening.

Spohr was a prominent musician in his time, and the Duo for Two Violins in A minor shows that he was a composer of talent, if not genius. Played by violinists Nai- Yuan Hu and Ik-Hwan Bae, it proved to be a work of some melodic interest, though Spohr was not able to overcome a slight sense of monotony arising from the joining of two like instruments.

Mendelssohn's Piano Quartet in F minor, Op. 2, brought together an impressive group: pianist Gustavo Romero, Mr. Bae, violist Roland Glassl and cellist Nathaniel Rosen. Mr. Romero was one half of the two-piano partnership in the recent Rite of Spring performance at the Nasher Sculpture Center. Again, he showed confidence and impressive skill.

For a work that came from the pen of a child, the quartet is astonishing. It is full of excellent musical ideas and a lively spirit that is engaging.

Far different in spirit was the opening work of the evening, the Adagio from Barber's String Quartet, Op. 11, with Mr. Bae, Mr. Hu, Mr. Glassl and Mr. Rosen the performers. This is the original of the beautiful work more often heard in the fuller arrangement for strings and now almost inevitable at solemn public occasions in America.

Brahms' String Sextet No. 1 brought everyone except Mr. Romero onstage, with violist Susan Dubois and cellist Ko Iwasaki joining in. This is a wonderful work and the opening movement was impressively done, though deadline pressure forced me into an early departure.

E-mail ochism@dallasnews.com
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