With only one week of concerts left in this year's Park City Music Festival, things are gradually winding down, classically speaking, at this mountain resort.
However, nothing has diminished as far as the quality of the performers or the programming is concerned. Both are, not surprisingly, still of the highest caliber imaginable.Sunday's concert was another fine example of the high standards one has come to expect from the organizers of this festival. The evening opened with Russell Harlow, Evan Drachman and Doris Stevenson (on clarinet, cello and piano, respectively) performing five of the "Eight Pieces for Clarinet, Cello and Piano," op. 83, by German composer Max Bruch. These are beautiful, full-bodied romantic pieces.
Much of the music in these selections is basically duet for the clarinet and cello, with the piano serving an accompanying role. Harlow and Drachman were well-matched, with Drachman's rich cello sound complementing Harlow's lush clarinet tones. Both musicians made their instruments sing, bringing out the sweet, tender melodies (especially in the slow movements) without sentimentalizing them. And Stevenson offered a subtle accompaniment to the other two performers.
The slow pieces that were played (numbers 3, 5 and 6) are noteworthy for their loveliness. No. 6, subtitled "Nachtgesang" ("Night Song"), is an especially tender, evocative piece of music, superbly played with great sensitivity by the three performers. No. 7, on the other hand, is totally unlike the preceding pieces of op. 83. It's a spirited and lively movement, containing hints of Haydn's playful minuets and of Brahms' somber scherzos in it.
The next work on the program was Mozart's Piano Quartet in G minor, K. 478. In Mozart's music, everything is perfectly balanced and impeccable, with not a single extraneous note or rest. This holds true for this quartet as well, from Mozart's mature period. As to the performance, this, too, was impeccable. Everything was in place here, nothing was missing and everything was in perfect balance. The musicians (Drachman and Stevenson were here joined by violinist Kerry McDermott and violist Leslie Harlow) were in tune with one another and gave a sterling performance.
In spite of the g minor key signature, this is a fairly light and airy work, unencumbered by any serious overtones (except for part of the first movement) that the minor key would indicate.
The last work on the program was Dvorak's magnificent Piano Trio, op. 90, "Dumke," which was performed brilliantly by Drachman, violinist Charles Castleman and pianist John Jensen, earning them a well-deserved standing ovation. They brought out the subtle shadings and intense contrasts that give Dvorak's music that distinct character - music that's also flavored with Middle European-tinged melodies.
Dvorak's Slavic temperament runs wild here. There are constant shifts between slow, emotional sections and furious outbursts of unbridled passion. Dvorak rarely gets more exciting than this.