By Arthur Connor
Luigi Boccherini, Oboe Quintet, No. 17 in E flat major (two movements) Franz Peter Schubert, String Quartet No. 14 in A minor (1st movement only) Alexander Borodin, String Trio in G minor (“Variations on a Russian Folk Song”/“How Did I Hurt You” (single movement) ) Ludwig van Beethoven, Piano Trio in C minor, Opus 1 No. 3 (2nd movement, Andante cantabile) August Friedrich Martin Klughardt, Wind Quintet, Opus 79 (2nd/4th movements) Johannes Brahms, Piano Trio No. 2 in C major, Opus 87 (2nd movement, Andante con moto) The evening of Friday, Dec. 7, proved to be dry, but still briskly cool, in Idyllwild Arts’ Lowman Concert Hall for the student chamber concert event that attracted a small but still appreciative audience, as the little more than half-occupied seats would attest. Beginning with a two-movement excerpt from Boccherini’s E flat major Oboe Quintet, in which the accompanying string quartet evinced a more than pleasant atmosphere, one was assured of further pleasing student efforts. However, the succeeding piece — the first movement of the late A minor String Quartet of Schubert, using the same string ensemble as the Boccherini — was a bit disappointing to this listener for an apparent lack of the songful qualities inherent in the work. Perhaps if they had chosen the final movement of that work to present, it would have displayed that aspect more fully, but that would have made the succeeding work — Borodin’s one-movement G minor string trio (the “Variations on a Russian Folk Song”/“How Did I Hurt You”) — seem even more trivial. Nevertheless, both works (the Borodin by two violins and a cello with different players) were presented with enough internal energy to counteract any other potential criticism. The remaining items on the program included two slow movements from two different piano trios; Beethoven’s early C minor trio (Opus 1 No. 3) and Brahms’ later C major trio (Opus 87) thus forming the pillars of the event, with both pianists (Tong Su in the Beethoven and Muyu Liu in the Brahms) acquitting themselves very well in both execution and in keeping the respective string players in line with the varied musical emotions required. And in between these monuments (as it were) came two movements of a wind quintet by Klughardt, which although somewhat derivative of his contemporary composers (Schumann, in particular) was essayed by a more than just ordinary effort by the players (in this case, all need to be singled out for exemplary ensemble playing — flutist Can Xu, oboist Fengyang Ju, hornist Junlang Guo, bassoonist Axel Liden and clarinetist Shangjun Jiang — who ought to get together again for the whole work, coupled maybe with another piece in the same genre by Franz Danzi, Anton Reicha or Louis Spohr — how about it, guys?) which proved a solid eventual introduction to the program’s last number, the Brahms andante con moto movement. In all, the students of Idyllwild Arts provided a well-illumined and decorated holiday “tannenbaum,” which the audience responded to with continued and well-deserved applause. Art Connor works at The Record Collector.