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MUSIC REVIEW : Santa Fe Chamber Fest at Royce Hall

Five chamber music all-stars, performing under the banner of the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival--where the participation of the best and brightest is commonplace--paid a visit to Royce Hall, reinforcing their glittering reputations as individuals and as ensemble players.

The substantial Sunday afternoon program opened with violinist James Buswell, cellist Timothy Eddy and pianist Ursula Oppens in a wittily elegant traversal of Beethoven’s gloriously serene--and for that reason, perhaps, rarely heard--Trio in E Flat, Opus 70, No. 2.

Serenity was rudely dispelled by the opening shudders and squawks of Schoenberg’s harrowing, horrific String Trio, Opus 46--music that remains, after numerous hearings, mesmerizing in its brutality. On this occasion, in addition to casting its usual it’s-so-ugly-it’s-almost-beautiful spell, Schoenberg’s musical diary of his 1946 heart attack was lent a certain ironic edge by the almost casual technical fluency and lavish tones of violinist Daniel Phillips, violist Kim Kashkashian and Eddy.

In conclusion, all five artists combined their skills for a lithely energetic, sweet-toned and--almost incidentally, it seemed--letter-perfect performance of the familiar Dvorak Quintet in A, Opus 81, led by Oppens’ delightfully stomping piano.

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