Tuesday, April 18, 2000

Franks' chamber works excite, delight




BY Tom Schneller
Enquirer contributor

        On Sunday afternoon, the Linton Chamber Music Series presented pianist Claude Frank, violinist Pamela Frank and cellist Peter Wiley in a program of chamber works by Schumann, Beethoven and Schubert. With its stained-glass windows and decorative wood paneling, the First Unitarian Church provided a lovely setting for the intimate character of the works.

        First on the program were Schumann's Fantasiestuecke, Op. 73, three exquisitely wrought miniatures for cello and piano. Peter Wiley and Claude Frank gave a superlative performance, subtle and rich in expressive nuance.

        Mr. Wiley's dark, burnished sound and sensitive phrasing eloquently conveyed the melancholy yearning of the first two movements and the surging exuberance of the last. Playing of such taste and delicacy is a rare treat.

        For Beethoven's Sonata No. 10 in G, Op. 96 for violin and piano Mr. Frank was joined by his daughter, Pamela Frank.

        Ms. Frank is a strikingly forceful performer. Melodic lines were strongly etched and delivered with a muscular tone that at climactic points assumed a searing, laser-like intensity. Her rapid vi brato and vigorous bow stroke created an earthy vitality that was invigorating but left little room for subtlety.

        Ms. Frank spelled her entire performance in capital letters, underlined and with exclamation marks.

        In the rapid conclusion of the last movement, she punctuated accents with such bacchanalian abandon that the melodic line became distorted. Such energy certainly creates an irresistible excitement, but an occasional moment of introspection might have allowed more than the most obvious features of the music to emerge.

        The three performers were united in the last piece of the program, Schubert's Trio No. 1 in B-flat, Op. 99, D. 898. The ensemble playing was superb.

        In the soulful slow movement, violin and cello are intertwined in one long contrapuntal embrace, and Ms. Frank and Mr. Wiley achieved an extraordinary intensity of expression. Mr. Frank's playing was warm and sensitive throughout.

        After the vigorous final cadence of the last movement, emphatic applause and a standing ovation marked the conclusion of this memorable concert.

       



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- Franks' chamber works excite, delight
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