A welcome return of Cincinnati’s Immaculata Chamber Music Series

The impressive Sunday September 26 concert that brought the long overdue return of Cincinnati’s Immaculata Chamber Music Series opened with Ernst von Dohnányi’s Serenade in C major, Op. 10, for string trio.

An early 20th century work written when its composer was in his mid-twenties, the five-movement suite is structured as a collection of five movements: an Allegro in the form of a lively March, a melodic Romanza, a Scherzo, a theme and variations, and a finale in the form of a Rondo.

Unlike those of his fellow Hungarians Bartók and Kodály, Dohnányi’s compositions do not find their inspiration in Hungarian folk songs, instead being closer to the post Romanticism much in vogue in Europe at the turn of the 20th century: still tonal, occasionally melodic, shunning any influence from the Second Viennese School, the Serenade in C major sounds at times like a chip off the old Brahms block, correctly structured, but more compositional perspiration than inspiration.

Violist Martin Hintz, cellist Jonathan Lee, and violinist KayCee Galano played with precision and boundless energy.

The second half of the concert featured the String Octet in E-flat major, Op. 20, written by Felix Mendelssohn at the age of 16.Conceived for a double quartet: four violins, two violas, and two cellos little did its young composer know that he was creating a new kind of work in the field of chamber music, a composition that set the name of Felix Mendelssohn on the musical map of 19th century Europe.

Structured in four continuous sections: a breathless Allegro moderato ma con fuoco in E-flat major, a lyrical C minor Andante, a G minor Scherzo that reminded one of the similar movement in the incidental music to A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and a race to the finish finale in Presto tempo that returns to the initial E-flat tonality, the Octet is a miraculously unpredictable composition, every bar filled with melodic and harmonic riches.

KayCee Galano, Maggie Niekamp, Kanako Shimasaki, Mwakudua waNgure, Martin Hintz, Judy Huang, Jonathan Lee, and Lucas Song were the eight players of the Mendelssohn, some of whom previously performed the Mendelssohn Octet in concert at the Immaculata Chamber Music series. With the peerless Kanako Shimasaki leading the ensemble, the eight musicians gave an exhilarating performance, marked by faultless intonation, technical accuracy, agility, and superb musicality. In short a great performance.

Information about upcoming concerts in the Immaculata Chamber Music series may be found on their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ImmaculataCMS

Rafael de Acha        ALL ABOUT THE ARTS