The Chamber Music Society of Fort Worth has been on quite a roll the last couple of seasons. The streak continued on Saturday afternoon with an impressive assembly of prominent musicians.
They were Gary Levinson, senior principal associate concertmaster of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra; Michael Klotz, violist of the Amernet String Quartet; Carter Brey, principal cellist of the New York Philharmonic; Nicolas Tsolainos, principal bassist of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra; and Jon Nakamatsu, 1997 gold medalist of the Van Cliburn Competition.
Their program in the Kimbell Art Museum’s Piano Pavilion was a mixture of the new and the old — the latter including two great masterpieces of the chamber music genre.
The new was Dance of Life for violin and double bass by the Iranian-American composer Behzad Ranjbaran, a longtime friend of Levinson and former composer-in-residence of the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra.
Levinson and Tsolainos were the performers of this unusual combination of instruments. On a first hearing the work seemed a pleasant and often lyrical exploration of the possibilities of combining two instruments of such divergent pitch ranges: from high peeps in the violin to low growls in the bass.
Ranjbaran made the unusual combination seem almost natural, not simply a series of tricks.
Brey and Nakamatsu teamed up for the first of the two masterpieces: Brahms’ Sonata for Cello and Piano in E minor, Opus 38.
They gave a superb performance of a work that is hauntingly melodic in the first movement, charming in the second and downright heroic in the third. The balance of sound was good; Brey and Nakamatsu make an admirable team.
All five of the afternoon’s performers joined forces for Schubert’s beloved Trout Quintet, a joyous conclusion to an afternoon of fine music.
The afternoon had opened somberly with an acknowledgement of the emotional impact of the terrorist attacks in Paris. The slow movement of Brahms’ Piano Quartet in C minor was beautifully played in tribute to the victims.