We live in strange times. About Easter, my area was under tornado watch. A few homes in Cinnaminson, a town a few miles away from me in New Jersey had homes totalled by the tornado. A rare and frightening sight indeed. So imagine Saturday, April 19, when there was a hurricane watch. Driving through pouring rain, it did begin to clear north of Hillsborough. Reaching the upscale hamlet of Madison, 80 miles north of my flat, the rain was soft and gentle. Great God Hermes be praised! His assured navigation, using his winged sandals and nude, rain-glistened body brought me safely to the Dorothy Young Center for the Arts, wherein The Concert Hall throbs.
Dear reader, you may ask why were you in the unknown wilds of New Jersey off Route 80? Members of The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center (CMS) were appearing for its third and last appearance of the season at The Concert Hall of Drew University. One of the least known treasures of New Jersey, this concert hall is not only physically beautiful, but acoustically wonderful. Comfortable seating, perfect sightlines, and spacious atria and halls to roam about before performances and during intermission are rare and substantial plusses, as is the spacious, free parking steps away from the hall.
Great Quintets was the title of the evening’s program. Two of the great quintets were by Mozart and Dvorak. Mozart’s Duo No 2 in B-flat major for Violin and Viola, K. 424 (1783) began the program. One could also include the great quintet of talented musicians, which included: Ani Kavafian, violin; Alexander Sitkovetsky, violin; Molly Carr, viola; Steven Tenenbom,viola; and David Finckel, cello.
Mister Sitkovetsky and Mister Tenenbom played the violin duo of Mozart magnificently, with luscious warmth and supreme depth of feeling. This superb achievement was followed by Mozart’s Quintet in G minor for Two Violins, Two Violas, and Cello, K. 516 (1787). All five soloists shone brightly with arresting depth, warmth and artistry. Phenomenal.
The second half of the program featured Dvorak’s Quintet in E-flat major for Two Violins, Two Violas, and Cello, Op. 97, “American” (1893). It may be played often, but never has this chestnut been played with greater panache and vigor. Breathtaking.
Audience acclaim for this splendid evening was vigorous, but short lived.
Fear not! The CMS will have another season at Drew University. To subscribe to the 2023-2024 CMS at Drew, visit www.chambermusicsociety.org or call 212-875-5788.