by David Patterson
The Boston Symphony Orchestra Chamber Players opened their Sunday afternoon concert in royal fashion with a quintet of J.C. Bach, and then took a leap into the 20th century with an early, artful work of Boston’s Walter Piston. Continuing on with their rather odd program, Hindemith’s sonata for double bass certainly felt at home in Jordan Hall, while a Hollywood-esque piece for horn and electronics by Jeremy Flower did not. Finally, with a Beethoven string trio came some normalcy.
Several of the audience members noted the exceptionally large number of empty seats. Could it have been the programming? Scrolling through the Upcoming Events section here in the Boston Musical Intelligencer, it could perhaps have been the sheer volume of musical events taking place in Boston at pretty much the same time.
Expectation, though, on the performance side of the concert was fulfilled and then some. BSOCP preserves its good-looking-ness on stage, its consummate presence, and, most of all, its unsurpassed musicianship. And this goes, as well, for its guest musicians.
J. C. Bach’s Quintet in G Major for flute, oboe, violin, viola, and continuo, Op. 11, No. 2, appeared aristocratic over its two movements. Rowe, Ferrillo, Lowe, Ansell, Eskin, and guest harpsichordist John Gibbons eloquently synchronized the simple harmonies, jolly melodies, and impression-making rapid passages, but brought still more to this historical sound-picture. Was this not the time of manners and courtesy blossoming? BSOCP persisted brilliantly in purveying such.
Later on in the program, we would come to the Beethoven and hear what a different take that composer has on life and on his contemporary culture. So, the program’s “oddness” did, in fact, make some sense; this, through a compare and contrast lesson, no words, all music making.