Festivals such as the Eastern Music Festival are ideal vehicles for exploring the byways and edges of the repertoire along with standard pieces. This concert, held in Dana Auditorium, made use of a substantial swath of professional faculty musicians to perform a Mozart quintet masterpiece, a seminal Ligeti woodwind quintet, Dvořák’s rare Terzetto, and a remarkable flute trio by Lowell Liebermann.

The String Quintet No. 3 in C, K.515, by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-91), is at pinnacle of his achievements, along with his G minor Quintet, K.516. An extra viola part is added to the standard string quartet. Its four movements are: Allegro, Menuetto. Allegretto, Andante, and Allegro. Violinists Randall Weiss and Avi Nagin joined violists Daniel Reinker and Sarah Cote.and cellist Marta Simidtchieva.* The players turned in a superbly organized performance with excellent intonation and string tone. The opening give-and-take between the deep cello phrase and the first violinist’s response was delightful. Mozart’s toying with different combinations is endlessly fascinating. The second movement features composer’s humorous playing with unexpected dynamics with every appearance of a motif. The third movement duet between Reinker’s rich viola and Weiss was extraordinarily satisfying. The finale was packed with energetic and humorous exploitation of multiple combination of all five instruments.

György Ligeti (1923-2006) chaffed under the ideological strictures of the communist Hungarian government of the 1950s. Among his suppressed avant-garde works is a six-part piano cycle, Musica ricercata, heavily influenced by the late styles of Bartók and Stravinsky. All but one selection from this cycle, arranged for wind quintet, was performed on the eve of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, but a full performance of all Six Bagatelles for Woodwind Quintet waited until 16 years later, after Ligeti had emigrated to the West. The succinct movements are: Allegro con spirito, Rubato Lamentoso, Allegro grazioso, Presto ruvido, Adagio Mesto; Bela Bartók in memoriam, Molto vivace; and Capriccioso. The performers were flutist Les Roettges, oboist Randall Ellis, clarinetist Shannon Scott, bassoonist George Sakakeeny, and hornist Kevin Reid. Full reign was given to the extremes of possible tone color and dynamic and harmonic ranges. Each player made the most of solo opportunities and blended well in various complex combinations. The rhythms were carefully differentiated. Roettges played both flute and piccolo as needed. Long held notes, such as some played by Reid, challenged performers’ remarkable breath control.

Lowell Liebermann (b.1961), author of more than 130 compositions in all genres, is one of America’s most successful composers. His works are frequently performed and many have been recorded. His Trio No. 1 for Flute, Cello, and Piano, Op.83 (2002), consists of four movements: Allegro, Moderato, Largo, and Presto. The performers were flutist Jake Fridkis, cellist Julian Schwarz, and pianist Marika Bournaki. The ensemble’s performance was extraordinary with dense, rhythmic sections juxtaposed with lyric episodes. The piano and cello spent much of the first movement playing a repetitive driving rhythm with the flute sometimes matching them or spinning a separate line. The often delicate second movement featured Bournaki’s repeated delicate treble. Schwarz’s deep, rich sonority was most telling as a pizzicato set against Fridkis’ seamless melody. Mournful melodies dominate the second movement. Complex interweaving of melodic lines add to the interest of the third movement. The fast-paced finale was intense, with the fine, soaring flute, which had plenty of trills, piano arpeggios and flourishes, and its full, gorgeous cello melody.

The Terzetto in C for Two Violins and Viola, Op. 74, by Antonin Dvořák (1841-1904), may not be a masterpiece, but there are few more delightful explorations of melodies and the possibilities of string sonorities. Its four movements are: Introduzione: Allegro am non troppo, Larghetto, Scherzo: Vivace; Trio Poco meno masso, and Tema con variazioni. The performers were violinists Avi Nagin and Netanel Draiblate joined by violist Ben Geller. The players sailed through Dvořák’s delightful score bursting with infectious melodies. What glorious string tones! What polished intonation! It would be hard to imagine a performance more completely conveying the joy of this music. Articulation was flawless as parts were paired or set against each other.

EMF continues through the month of July. See our calendar for performances to come.

*Her recent CD is reviewed here.