MONTREAL — Music lovers have grown comfortable with the masterpieces described as “war horses” or “chestnuts,” but those “greatest hits” amount to a small fraction of great works in the repertoire.
Musica Camerata Montréal is now in its 43rd season of introducing audiences to music they didn’t know they loved — yet. Sunday’s concert at the Segal Centre introduced outstanding works by little-known composers and a couple of little-known works by well-known composers.
Perhaps the most profound, and certainly the most intriguing, work was written by a Quebec composer. Despite only two movements, the 1942 Piano Quintet by Rodolphe Mathieu (1890-1962) is a large-scale work.
The opening Larghetto, with its mildly discordant harmonic language, is deep, dark and beautiful, and introduces the scherzo-like Allegro, a lighter but no less harmonically challenging journey. It felt almost like Mahler with a French, or French Canadian, accent.
Camerata is led by Artistic Director Luis Grinhauz, assistant concertmaster of the Montreal Symphony, and his wife, Berta Rosenohl, a pianist of great clarity and deep musicality. Grinhauz, who plays with a lush singing sound and deep expressiveness, was matched in this work, indeed in all of Sunday’s performances, by fellow members of the Montreal Symphony: violinist Van Armenian, violist Lambert Chen and cellist Sylvain Murray.
The major work was the much more modern-sounding 1953 Piano Quintet in D Major by the Finnish Joonas Kokkonen (1921-1996). Although still tonal, the stark harmonic language and drive give it a cutting-edge feel, save for the dark and lush Adagio. The Camerata players were clearly comfortable with this music — and made their audience comfortable as well.
Much more familiar in style, but seldom performed, was Luigi Boccherini’s Piano Quintet in C Major, Opus 57, a most charming and very Classical work by this Mozart contemporary. The string players’ rich lyricism was complemented by Rosenohl’s virtuosic clarity in this most intimate performance.
Even more intimate was Franz Schubert’s one-movement String Trio in B-flat Major, D. 471. Grinhauz, Chen and Murray played with an expressiveness and sensitivity that made their songful performance a joy.
Musica Camerata Montréal consistently delivered expert and musically sensitive performances that revealed the greatness in these unusual works. For its final concert of the 2012-2013 season, May 12, the ensemble will return to “war horses” by J.S. Bach, Mozart and Gabriel Fauré.
Musica Camerata Montréal
Musica Camerata Montréal, for its final concert of the 2012-2013 season, will perform works of J.S. Bach, Mozart and Fauré at 2 p.m. Sunday, May 12, at the Segal Centre, 5170 Chemin de la Côte-Sainte-Catherine in Montreal. For information, go online to www.camerata.ca.
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