Recent News
01.13.19
James Conlon
Dull Bruch from Zuk, blazing Bartók from Conlon and New World at Arsht
South Florida Classical Review
01.11.19
Sir Andrew Davis
With conductor Andrew Davis, the BSO considers the big picture
The Boston Globe
01.10.19
Louis Lortie
PIANIST LOUIS LORTIE JOINS THE ROSTER
01.10.19
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
ALVIN AILEY AMERICAN DANCE THEATER CELEBRATES GROUNDBREAKING FOUNDER DURING 60TH ANNIVERSARY NORTH AMERICAN TOUR FEBRUARY 1 – MAY 12, 2019
Ailey PressRoom
01.07.19
Teddy Abrams, Inon Barnatan, The Knights
WQXR Presents “19 for 19”: Artists to Watch in the Upcoming Year
WQXR
01.02.19
Ward Stare
Auld acquaintance is not forgotten at the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra's New Year's Eve concert
KDHX
01.01.19
Marin Alsop, Lawrence Foster, Miguel Harth-Bedoya, Mariss Jansons, David Robertson, Donald Runnicles, Patrick Summers, Emmanuel Villaume, Conrad Tao, Andrew von Oeyen, Inon Barnatan, Daniil Trifonov, Blake Pouliot, Isabelle Faust, Edgar Moreau, Yo-Yo Ma, Alisa Weilerstein, Colin Currie Group , Brooklyn Rider , Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Munich , Lisette Oropesa, Michelle DeYoung, Anthony Roth Costanzo, Christian Van Horn, Storm Large
Best of 2018
12.17.18
Richard Kaufman
Cleveland Orchestra, Choruses make it feel like Christmas at Severance Hall
Cleveland Plain Dealer
12.17.18
Vienna Boys Choir
Vienna Boys Choir mix it up with a cosmopolitan “Christmas in Vienna”
New York Classical Review
12.14.18
Storm Large
High-energy holidays with Storm Large at the Sun
KDHX

News archive »

Pickup ensemble shines in sextets

10.11.12
Pamela Frank
Washington Post

By Robert Battey

Pickup chamber music groups are like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re going to get. So the tight ensemble and stylistic cohesion on display Wednesday at the Library of Congress was not a foregone conclusion.

To be sure, the artists all had top pedigrees, led by violinist Pamela Frank. She and her husband, Alexander Simionescu, took turns leading sextets by Schoenberg and Brahms. Their colleagues — violists Dimitri Murrath and Nokuthula Ngwenyama, and cellists Edward Arron and Peter Wiley — all knew what to do, whom to listen to and how to blend.

In Schoenberg’s “Verklaerte Nacht,” the group wrung every drop of anguish and ecstasy out of the music, the dynamic and expressive range extremely wide. Wiley daringly drew gruesome sounds out of his instrument in his one big solo (possibly not everyone understood that he was depicting the line “shuddering, I gave my body to the embrace of a stranger” from the poem that inspired the piece). Simionescu led the group well, though everyone was in sync naturally. The only weakness was the scrawny tone of Ngwenyama, whose solos were uncharacteristically wobbly. Arron is an outstanding player, but his face is more expressive than his actual sound; distractingly so.

In the Brahms “String Sextet No. 1, Op. 18,” Frank’s playing was the highlight; she had the most detailed musical ideas and the chops to carry them all out. Wiley’s solos were a bit sleepy-sounding but faultless, and the group solved all of the tricky balance problems in the thickly scored piece. No one ever had to force, and the pianissimos were like whispered confessions at dusk.

The program opened with Dvorak’s “Miniatures, Op. 75a,” with Frank, Simionescu and Murrath achieving miraculous intonation and blend in the final “Elegie.”