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Superb performances leave nothing to be desired

08.09.07
Stefan Jackiw
Seattle Times

 

BY MELINDA BARGREEN, Music Critic

Any concert that gives you two performances in which you wouldn't change a note is a concert to remember.

That was the case Wednesday evening at the next-to-last program in the Seattle Chamber Music Society's Eastside venture, the Summer Festival at the Overlake School.

With an opening recital by cellist Joshua Roman, one of the major stars on the Northwest music scene, things were off to a terrific start. Roman, principal cellist of the Seattle Symphony, played the third of Britten's challenging solo Suites for Cello with such a sure musical sense and such a strongly characterized interpretation that there was literally nothing left to wish for. The tremendous contrasts between the suite's propulsive sections and the serenity of the folksong material created a great deal of drama, and Roman's technique was always remarkable.

The incredible speed of the "Moto Perpetuo: Presto" movement made "The Flight of the Bumblebee" sound like "The Flight of the Musk Ox" in comparison.

Euphoric audiences drifted back into the concert hall for the main-event

concert, to be met with a world-class performance of the Beethoven

Piano Quartet in E-Flat Major (Op. 16): Violinist Stefan Jackiw, violist

Seattle Symphony principal cellist Joshua Roman played with a sure musical

The Seattle Times / Greg Gilbert

Richard O'Neill, cellist Robert deMaine and pianist Craig Sheppard were the players. It was a lesson in how this piece should sound. Every

detail of expression was in place, with a unanimous approach that

bespoke both refinement and tremendous power. There was plenty

of keyboard thunder, as Sheppard brought to bear his deep understanding

of Beethoven. From where I sat, the elegant Jackiw could have played

out a bit more, but this may have been an acoustical factor.

Two great crowd-pleasers followed: Paul Schoenfield's jazzy, winning "Café Music" (with Scott Yoo, Ronald Thomas and Orion Weiss having a great time), and Dohnanyi's unevenly inspired Op. 37 Sextet, with its swooning salon-music episodes. Stephen Rose, David Harding, Roman, Frank Kowalsky, Jeffrey Fair and Anton Nel gave it a tremendous ride, with Nel's superb piano carrying the giant's share of the music.