There are certain things you expect at a festival devoted to chamber music. However, at the Park City Music Festival you quickly learn to expect the unexpected or the extraordinary.
This was the case at Sunday evening's concert, which, in addition to traditional chamber music fare, also served up one of Charlie Chaplin's silent shorts, "Easy Street," with live accompaniment. This is the first of two such concerts (the other being on Thursday, Aug. 6, when Chaplin's "Vagabond" will be shown).It was a huge hit with the audience, and rightly so. Russell Harlow set the movie to Beethoven's music, and it was performed by pianist Robert Moeling and a string quartet consisting of violinists Carol Sindell and Laura Bossert, violist Leslie Harlow and cellist Terry King. Beethoven's music was perfect and it was perfectly in synch with the action on the screen. And the musicians' timing was as impeccable as Chaplin's. Russell Harlow showed a definite talent in finding and arranging the right music. One hopes setting a film to music will become a standard feature at the Park City Festival.
Sunday's concert also had several unexpected program and performer changes. As Harlow noted before the concert began, the program changes were necessary because there were more technical problems with the movie than expected, so there wasn't enough time to rehearse the listed work. Instead, the audience got two short, delightful pieces.
The first was a frisky trio for flute, clarinet and oboe (performed by Patrice Moeling, Marion Pendell and Russell Harlow, respectively) by British composer Malcolm Arnold. The second piece was Debussy's "Rhapsody" for clarinet and piano, played by Harlow and pianist Gail Niwa.
The evening ended gloriously with Dvorak's robust and intensely melodic Piano Quintet in A major, op. 81, performed by Sindell, Bossert, Leslie Harlow, King and Niwa. These musicians sounded magnificent together, giving a strong, decisive performance of Dvorak's chamber masterpiece.