Boston Symphony Chamber Players open season with eclectic mix

By Matthew Guerrieri

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Like a kid cleaned up for the first day of school, the Boston Symphony Chamber Players came to Jordan Hall on Sunday for their season opener pristinely uniformed, musically speaking, via the second of Johann Christian Bach’s Op. 11 Quintets. The youngest of Johann Sebastian’s sons cultivated a confident, teacher’s-pet musical style: lively, unceasing balance, urbane Classical symmetries buffed to a self-possessed shine. The performance — by flutist Elizabeth Rowe, oboist John Ferrillo, violinist Malcolm Lowe, violist Steven Ansell, and cellist Jules Eskin, with John Gibbons on harpsichord — was equally unruffled. It primed an eclectic program full of opportunities to compare ideas of musical order.

Walter Piston’s Three Pieces for Flute, Clarinet, and Bassoon — Rowe joined by William Hudgins and Richard Svoboda, respectively — was, on the surface, more barbed. But its orderly underpinnings were merely playing debonair hide-and-seek: Cubist melodic lines eventually refracted into coordination, competing tonalities clashing then gracefully interlocking. The finale was especially nimble, a twittering rush, a flock of birds suddenly turning on a dime.

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