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Buffalo Chamber Music Society ends season on high note

The final concert in the Buffalo Chamber Music Society’s 93rd season, held Tuesday night in Kleinhans Music Hall, featured an intriguing program by members of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center (CMS for short). The program showcased well played, intriguing scores by Bela Bartok and Dmitri Shostakovich along with a masterpiece from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s catalog.

Violinist Bela Hristova, clarinetist David Shifrin and pianist Gloria Chien started things off by playing the series premiere of Bartok’s “Contrasts,” a roughly 17-minute long work commissioned by jazz master Benny Goodman.

 It’s a piece where the composer’s fascination with Hungarian folk melodies led to his setting a three movement work with two dance tunes bracketing a slower paced mid-section. Shifrin was the star of the performance but it was a close call since everyone in the trio was pulling their weight and then some to make the difficulties in the score go off without a discernible hitch.

The next piece found Hristova, Chien and cellist Dimitri Atapine combining for a take on Shostakovich’s Piano Trio no. 2 in E minor.

Atapine’s keening solo cello line opened the way for the violin to float along the top of the riff just before the piano rolled some ominous sounding notes into the mix. It was typical of the composer’s World War II period where his brilliance served up an instrumental illustration of the times.

The emotional impact of the first two works needed a little time for the audience to relax so, after the intermission, Mozart’s Quintet for Clarinet and Strings brought Shifrin back to the stage along with Hristova and Atapine and with the addition of violist Mark Holloway and violinist Danbi Um.

It is an undeniably beautiful piece of music and Shifrin made the most of his featured role. This doesn’t mean the other players were along as mere sideshow dressing. The way the musicians blended their talents to provide a splendidly constructed coda to the evening proved that point.

While the music and the performers were the reason the concert was such a success, the intermission wasn’t merely a time for taking a walk into the lobby for refreshments and conversing with friends.

This is the time when Morton Abramson, treasurer of the Society, was onstage to honor a pair of talented local students with a Silverman Scholarship, a tool created by Friends of the Philharmonic, to help young musicians further their career opportunities. This year scholarships were awarded to violinist Christophe Koenig (who is headed to the Eastman School of Music) and cellist Drew Cone (who will be attending the Juilliard Music School).


Buffalo Chamber Music Society presents Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center

Tuesday evening in Kleinhans Music Hall

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