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Linton Music Re-Creates Cozy Tradition

Mary Ellyn Hutton
Posted: May 15, 2006 - 12:00:00 AM in reviews_2006

   Before there were public concerts as we know them today, before radio, TV, CDs and I-pods, there were house concerts, gatherings of small groups to make music in their homes.
   Cincinnati's Linton Chamber Music Series re-created this historic tradition Sunday afternoon at First Unitarian Church in Avondale.
   As it might have in 1802, the program included arrangements of symphonies by Haydn and Beethoven, opera arias by Mozart and a Mozart piano concerto transcribed for string quartet and piano. The "Linton Parlor," raised podium with seating on all sides, warm light streaming through the stained glass windows, felt like it might have been the real thing.
   Leading off were the Minuet and Finale of Haydn’s Symphony No. 104 ("London") arranged by Haydn’s English impresario J.P. Salomon. Violinists Philip Palermo and Louise Alexander, violist Michael Strauss, cellist Theodore Nelson, flutist Randolph Bowman and pianist Lei Weng joined in a performance that was spirited, ensemble-perfect and full of nuance.
   Bowman was joined by violinist Tatiana Berman in arias from Mozart’s "Magic Flute." Bowman’s sweet tone and emotive expression beautifully embodied the rejected Pamina’s grief, while Berman endowed the Queen of the Night’s rage with Mozartean elegance. Linton artistic director Dick Waller cracked up everyone, including the performers, by popping up from a choir stall to sound Papageno’s panpipes on a tonette during the birdcatcher’s fun, frothy "Der Vogelfänger bin ich ja."
   A highlight of the program was the Larghetto and Scherzo of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 2 arranged for piano trio by Beethoven himself. It was like discovering an entirely new work by the composer, Berman, Nelson and Chertock investing it with drama and command.
   (House concerts are alive and well in the Queen City, Berman having performed a scrumptious program with pianist Frank Weinstock and guitarist Joshua McGuire Saturday night at the home of John and Farah Palmer in Indian Hill.)
   "Traveling musicians from the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra" (Waller) arrived next to perform "Magic Flute" arias arranged by Mozart for wind sextet. Papageno’s "Vogelfänger," Pamina and Tamino’s love duet, Papageno and Papagena’s charming duet and the opera’s final chorus got stylish treatment from clarinetists Jonathan Gunn and Ixi Chen, bassoonists Jennifer Monroe and Beth Ann Clare and hornists Gene Berger and Nick Murdick.
   Chertock took the solo spot in Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 12 with Palermo, Alexander, Strauss and Nelson. The spring in Chertock’s touch was echoed by the quartet in the first movement, his wistfulness in the second. The pixie-like final rondo was carefully delineated, with a wealth of character and contrast.
   Repeat is 7:30 p.m. tonight at Congregation Ohav Shalom in Montgomery
(first published in The Cincinnati Post May 15, 2006)