Three's Company

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By 2017-10-08

By Ranga Chandrarathne
Ceylon Today Mosaic

A concert by the Chamber Music Society of Colombo (CMSC) in association with the Goethe-Institute and sponsored by Fairway Holdings was held on the 24th of September at the Goethe-Saal.

As programing goes, this concert was vintage CMSC, in other words, fascinating and obscure.
When one thinks of music for a string trio, the combination of Violin, Viola and Cello more often than not, comes to mind. Music for two Violins and a Cello, less common, and most uncommon would be the bizarre configuration of Violin, Cello and Double-bass. And this concert was all about the less and most uncommon.

Opening with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Twelve Minuets, K.599, 601, 604, these delightful confections of musical ephemera were published in Vienna in 1791 under the title: XII Minuetti per due Violini e Basso del Sgr. They comprised the Six Minuets K.599, the Four Minuets K.601 and the Two Minuets K.604, and were composed in early 1791 for the King of Naples. Still with Mozart, his 'Six Ländlerische Tänze,' K.606 followed.
Ursula Nelius, the Society's associate concertmaster played First violin, with Lakshman Joseph de Saram, the concertmaster playing Second violin and SarangaCooray, the cello. The playing was understated with subtlety and never left the 19th century classical drawing room.
Michael Haydn, the 'other' brother was featured next with his trio for Violin, Cello and Double-bass. Haydn was a prolific composer who in his day was much admired, and with the passage of time, his music has had a considerable impact on succeeding generations; his compositional influence on both Mozart and Schubert are tangible.

The unwieldy Double-bass was handled adroitly by the Society's principal, NilanthiWeerakoon, with the Violin part played by the concertmaster and the cellist remaining the same. The music was surprisingly melodic, almost early romantic in the middle movement. A lively presto finale saw the Violin bounce along with the Cello and Double bass ably joining in the festivities.
Alexander Borodin's trio for Two Violins and Cello was probably the most well-known work of the evening. Although we felt the interpretation lacked some Slavic intensity in dynamic range, the quiet approach illuminatedperhaps, more of the emotional undercurrents of the score.

The concert ended with two contemporary works, the German 20th century composer HienzIrsen sounding agreeably modern and the premier of Karol Lugailo's 'Music for Three,' pleasantly innovative.
The complicated polyrhythmic and harmonic structure of the Irsen tested the musicians' technical abilities, which they passed with a high degree of ease and precision.

The melodic warmth and lush harmony of the Lugailo was the perfect digestif to a very pleasant evening.
The program could be described as docile, albeit unusual, but the quality and passion of the music making was such, that the music seemed better than it probably was. And as always, the concertmaster's confident banter explaining the music in lieu of program notes was welcome and appropriate.

Having the most mature and refined style coupled with uncompromising artistic planning and supported by a growing audience of discernment, the CMSC comfortably sitsapart from the rest. Many kudos to their Premier sponsor Fairway Holdings and their creative partner, the Goethe-Institute.

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