Performing Arts

Concert marks Spectrum Chamber Music Ensemble’s 30th anniversary

The Spectrum Chamber Music Ensemble celebrated its 30th anniversary with an unusual, varied program in First Jefferson Unitarian Universalist Church on Monday evening. Musicians of the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, who inaugurated Spectrum three decades ago, were well represented both onstage and in the audience.

The celebration began with something brand new: music for violin and harp by Patricio da Silva. The performers were Crimson, a duo composed of harpist Jaymee Haefner and violinist Matt Milewski.

It immediately became apparent that da Silva, who received his musical training in his native Portugal and the United States, has a real gift for melody. I found his music lyrical, appealing and original in its pairing of the two instruments.

I suspect that da Silva may have an impish sense of humor. The titles of the three pieces making up Monday’s offering were West Is This Way, We’re Not in Kansas Any More and Hands On. The significance of the titles (The Wizard of Oz, perhaps, in the Kansas work?) was not made clear by the music.

In any case, it was really quite pleasant stuff.

So was Ravi Shankar’s Dawn Enchanted by the Raga Todi, which brought Haefner and Milewski back onstage. It seemed at first to be a solo for harp, which produced impressionistic sounds alone for awhile, but then the violin was heard offstage and finally onstage, when the solo became an instrumental duet. This was really a quite seductive work of great originality.

Then came one of the greatest of all pieces of chamber music: Schubert’s String Quintet in C major, D. 956. Performing were violinists Jennifer Chang and Molly Baer, violist Daniel Sigale, and cellists Allan Steele and Louis-Philippe Robillard.

They produced a passionate performance of both great lyric beauty and stormy drama. The haunting adagio, which is always spine-tingling with its soaring first violin and surging cellos, was an exceptional high point.

The program, and a related one on Saturday, was a kind of festival of great Schubert. The Chamber Music Society of Fort Worth, with guest Italian pianist Alessandro Deljavan, presented the composer’s Fantasy in F minor for piano, four hands, D. 940, and the Piano Trio in B-flat major, D. 898, on Saturday.

The Spectrum’s string quintet wound up the Schubert “festival.”