NOVA CHAMBER MUSIC SERIES, Utah Museum of Fine Arts Auditorium, University of Utah, Sunday
It's difficult to imagine that there are works by Beethoven and Bruckner that have been neglected to the point of obscurity, but that's exactly where the string quintets the two wrote find themselves in.
While Bruckner certainly isn't known as a composer of chamber music (it played an insignificant role in his output), the fact that he wrote a string quintet of considerable merit that hasn't found a place in the repertoire is surprising.
For Beethoven, chamber music was a major part of his ouevre and his op. 29 string quintet, written at the same time as his well known and popular "Moonlight" Sonata, is a wonderful addition to the quintet literature.
It was these two works that were on the program at Sunday's NOVA Chamber Music Series concert. Performing were Utah Symphony colleagues Brant Bayless and Julie Edwards, violas, who were joined by violinists Hasse Borup and Stephanie Cathcart, and cellist Noriko Kishi.
Beethoven's quintet, rather than looking forward to the innovations he brought to the "Moonlight" Sonata in terms of structure and thematic development, instead looks back to the 18th century, and has much in common with the op. 18 quartets.
There is a freshness about the quintet that is appealing, and Haydn is never very far away, especially in the humor of the finale. It is an utterly captivating work and the five players gave a luminous reading that captured the airy lightness of the music wonderfully.
The clarity of their phrasings, the clean lines and articulate delivery and execution brought finesse and polish to their account.Their lyrical interpretation also underscored the delightful expressiveness that permeates the work particularly in the Adagio, which they played seamlessly.
Bruckner's quintet, on the other hand, is symphonic in scope. It is broadly laid out, the thematic material unfolds expansively and each movement is delineated with grandly conceived climaxes molded in the same vein as his symphonies.
The five musicians easily captured this with their effusive playing that was superbly crafted and nuanced. Their playing was wonderfully expressive and lyrical and brought out the transcendant beauty of the music stunningly.
The high point of their performance was their glorious account of the Adagio. As gorgeous a slow movement as any from his symphonies, Bruckner's Adagio of the quintet exudes an otherworldliness that the five players underscored with their exquisitely crafted interpretation.