Arts » Theater + Dance

Review: Ronen Chamber Ensemble

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4 stars
Hilbert Circle Theatre Wood Room; Oct. 4.

Now beginning its 28th season of presenting intimate chamber music, the Ronen Chamber performers' concert on Tuesday had a misnomer of a title: "An Evening of Romance." While you can apply lots in the musical repertoire to that beloved theme, the three works played that evening were not really suggestive of love-relationships. Schubert's dramatic, headstrong, stormy "Quartettsatz" (quartet movement) in C Minor, D. 703, is the composer's 12th string quartet - but his first one achieving greatness and repertoire status. Violinists Zach dePue and Philip Palermo, violist Nancy Agres and cellist Ingrid Fischer-Bellman (all ISO players) precisely revealed all its intricacies through its near-perpetual motion, suggestive of Beethoven but abetted with melody only Schubert could have created.

Violinist Zach dePue.
  • Violinist Zach dePue.
This was followed by the performance debut of John Berners' Cabaret Songs for Soprano, Clarinet and Bayan, featuring soprano Kathleen Hacker (Berner's faculty colleague at UIndy), clarinetist David Bellman and bayan player - an accordion with buttons replacing the piano-type keys - Marko Petricic. Three whimsical songs with humorous verses, one written by the composer, were well sung, Hacker presenting a rich, well modulated voice a bit lower than the typical soprano register. Correspondingly, the two instrumentalists were right on track with Hacker, followed by hearty applause.

The Schubert quartet players were joined in the second half by Bellman for Brahms' celebrated and late-composed Clarinet Quintet in B Minor, Op. 115. As we often find later Brahms' works described as "autumnal," this quintet goes one step further in being wistfully autumnal, ending in yearning sadness. While we didn't quite enjoy "an evening of romance," we did savor a concert well played.

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