PARK CITY MUSIC FESTIVAL, Park City Community Church, July 28

Johannes Brahms wrote some of the most memorable chamber music of the 19th century so it’s no wonder that it appears frequently on the programs of chamber music series. And it’s always a treat to hear it – especially if it’s played as perceptively and compellingly as it was Thursday evening in Park City.

Brahms’ Trio for Clarinet, Cello and Piano in A minor, op. 114, was on the program at the Park City Music Festival concert Thursday in the Park City Community Church. The first of several chamber pieces for clarinet Brahms wrote late in his life, the A minor Trio is wonderful for its beautiful expressiveness and poignancy, as well as for its contemplative character, an element that recurs in Brahms’ final works.

Clarinetist Russell Harlow, cellist Mark Kosower and pianist Jee-Won Oh gave a fabulous reading that brought out the trio’s quiet introspection, its deeply moving expressiveness and its seamlessly flowing lyricism.

Harlow’s playing has a lovely rounded sound and it was matched by Kosower’s full tone. They complemented one another, and Oh added to the richness of the sonority with her sensitive and perceptive playing.

The other major work on the program was Alexander Glazunov’s String Quartet No. 5 in D minor, op. 70. Not a household name by any stretch, Glazunov’s music nevertheless deserves more play time than it receives. His music is well written, wonderfully melodic and substantial.

The four musicians (violinists Monte Belknap and Walter Olivares; violist Leslie Harlow; and Kosower) exhibited excellent ensemble play as they brought out the mellifluousness of the work. Their reading was filled with beautifully crafted phrasings, subtle shadings and gorgeous lyricism. They let the music speak for itself; it was a thoughtful, sensitive account that did justice to the music.

Kosower, accompanied by Oh, was spotlighted in two showpieces at the start of the second half – David Popper’s Serenade and Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s “Figaro” Variations.

In the former, Kosower showed what a wonderfully eloquent cellist he is. His playing was gorgeously poetic as he coaxed every ounce of expressiveness out of the music.

In the latter, a clever arrangement of the “Largo al factotum” from Gioachino Rossini’s opera The Barber of Seville, Kosower let loose with some astonishing pyrotechnics. Filled with virtuosic writing, Kosower made short work of it and gave a brilliantly dazzling account of this witty piece.

The concert opened with a finely textured and expressive account of Zoltán Kodály’s Serenade for Two Violins and Viola, op. 12, played by Olivares, Belknap and Leslie Harlow.

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