Review of concert
To Breathe Their Marvelous Notes: Chameleon Arts Ensemble
Saturday, May 20, 2006, 8:00 PM
With this event, the Chameleon Arts Ensemble put a compelling close on its eighth season. Like the Radius Ensemble and Winsor Music, they are a mixed instrumental group (numbering in this case a sizable fourteen members) playing music from all eras, not just the last 100 years.
Half of the four program items here dated from the early part of the 20th century, while yet another was penned quite recently. That latest item was a terrific listen, too, Paul Moravec's 2004 Pulitzer Prize winning mixed quartet Tempest Fantasy. Inspired both by the title Shakespeare play and Moravec's bouts with clinical depression, this is meaty, gripping stuff that despite its polytonal language and straightforward rhythms sounds truly unique. Its five divisions describe an arch, with outer movements being compellingly energetic, even numbered movements intensely expressive, and center movement darkly march-like. And the finale cleverly incorporates aspects of its predecessors. An utter must-hear that proves both a crowd pleaser and connoisseur's delight.
The other non-classics filled niches in much-neglected ensemble configurations, but did so with varying degrees of success. For flute, cello, and piano, Bohuslav Martinu's Trio in F Major consists of two bouncy, effervescent cornerstones flanking a warmly noble slow middle. It's one of Martinu's most overtly Neoclassic compositions, albeit colored with Slavic touches. This is solid, pleasing fare that doesn't embarrass itself.
The Sonate of Darius Milhaud, however, provides little substance for its foursome of flute, oboe, clarinet, and piano. A relatively early work, it exhibits a mildly Sacre influenced polytonality but contains facile, stodgy music that often meanders aimlessly.
Performances were top-drawer regardless of music quality. In particular, one should mention Gary Gorczyca (clarinet/bass clarinet), Katherine Winterstein (violin), Rafael Popper-Keizer (cello), and Gloria Chien (piano) for their arresting, no-nonsense presentation of the Moravec, while flautist (and artistic director) Deborah Boldin joined the aforementioned cellist and pianist to infuse Martinu's trio with heart and light-footed grace.
Suffice to say that your reviewer was captivated by the Chameleon Arts group's many fascinating colors. Much enjoyed.