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News Detail

Classical review: Chamber trio superb with Debussy and Mendelssohn

Source: GuideLive

By OLIN CHISM / Special Contributor to The Dallas Morning News

RICHARDSON – A trio of major artists presented a richly varied program for Chamber Music International on Sunday evening. The concert in Countrywide Theatre of Richardson's Eisemann Center drew a significant number of listeners, proving that football doesn't entirely rule this area.

In fact, there was another program in an adjoining auditorium in the center and the Eisemann lobby was packed. You'd hardly have known that the nation's attention was focused elsewhere.

Chamber Music International's guest artists were violinist Cho-Liang Lin, cellist Hai-Ye Ni and pianist Helen Huang. Of the three, Ms. Ni may be the least known, but she's the new principal cellist of the Philadelphia Orchestra, a formidable recommendation and a merited one, as the course of the evening proved.

Ms. Ni and Ms. Huang opened the program with Debussy's Sonata for Cello and Piano. It was an atmospheric and wonderfully flowing performance, with the strongly resonant sounds of Ms. Ni's cello caressing the ear.

Next came an amazingly varied pair of works by one composer: Zhou Long. Mr. Lin explained to the audience that Mr. Long is a Chinese composer of the generation of Tan Dun and Bright Sheng. Now in his mid-50s, he was victimized by China's Cultural Revolution but has since rebounded to prominence and is now teaching in the United States.

Mr. Lin mentioned the two paths of Mr. Long's musical style. The two works performed on Sunday evening demonstrated his point. They were so unalike that you'd probably never guess that they were by the same composer.

The first, Partita for Violin and Piano, was played by Mr. Lin and Ms. Huang. The four-movement work was quite traditional, even backward-looking you might say. The first two movements harked to earlier times (the work was composed in the 1990s) and were joined to a lovely, almost impressionistic andante and a lively allegro vivace.

The second, Secluded Orchid, was played by all of the evening's performers. It was forward-looking and starkly different, with a more venturous harmonic language and expanded techniques for all three instruments. It was built, Mr. Lin said, on an ancient Chinese melody that may have been written by Confucius – or so the tradition goes.

Both compositions were strongly appealing. With Mr. Long, it seems, you can have your choice of styles.

The evening closed with a major performance of Mendelssohn's great Piano Trio in D minor, Op. 49. This is one of the composer's most endearing compositions, and Ms. Huang, Mr. Lin and Ms. Ni did it full justice.

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