Charismatic Chemistry and Poignant Parting Notes

United StatesUnited States Mozart, Schubert, Reger: Lauren Roth (violin), Zsche Chuang Rimbo Wong (viola), Hyunsoo Kim (piano), Canton Symphony Orchestra (chamber series), Cable Recital Hall, Canton, Ohio (USA), 05.03.2013 (TW)

Mozart: Sonata for Violin and Piano in G Major (1778)
Schubert: Sonata for Arpeggione (Viola) and Piano (1824)
Reger: Trio for Violin, Viola and Piano in B minor (1891)

When violinist Lauren Roth stunned a packed Umstattd Hall last October with her breathtaking performance of Menotti’s Violin Concerto in A Minor, it was abundantly clear that the Canton Symphony Orchestra (CSO) had acquired a world-class concertmaster. Since then, she regularly provided a thrilling dimensionality to CSO programs throughout the 2012-2013 season.

The season concluded on May 3 at Cable Recital Hall with a chamber concert that featured Roth along with CSO principal violist Zsche Chuang Rimbo Wong and guest pianist Hyunsoo Kim. An enchanting program was delivered with impeccable technique and inspired readings of the works’ many emotional nuances.

Mozart’s Sonata for Violin and Piano in G Major (K.301) is a harmonically charming intertwining of the two instruments. The give-and-take exchanges between Roth and Kim during the lilting first movement were crisp and spirited, as were the dance-like syncopations of the second, with just a hint of somber nostalgia in the middle passages.

There are similar emotional tinges in Schubert’s Sonata for arpeggione and Piano. Schubert composed the work in 1824 specifically for the arpeggione, a six-stringed instrument fretted and tuned like a guitar but bowed like a cello. The instrument never caught on. By the time Schubert finally published his work in 1871, he included his arrangement for cello or viola.

In any event, here violist Wong captivated the audience from the start with the sheer depth of her sound. Her warm sonority is well suited to the plaintive, melancholic character of the opening melody, as well as the more sustained, contemplative inflections in the second movement.

Wong’s tonal subtleties are remarkably evocative, and a fitting complement to Roth’s soaring clarity and lyricism. Theirs is indeed a charismatic chemistry, which has produced numerous magical moments in past CSO performances as well as on this occasion.

Max Reger’s Trio for Violin, Viola and Piano—somewhat reminiscent of Brahms—is a beautiful and riveting three-movement work, rich with textures, rhythms and color. At times it conjures images of a highly animated three-way conversation. It begins in a brooding spirit and from there hovers alternately between controlled tumult and sustained solemnity. There is a distinct aura of sadness, as if hearing a lingering goodbye, and performed here with passionate intensity.

The work’s mood took on added poignancy, since this marked the final CSO appearance for both the violist and the violinist. Wong will be moving on to Philadelphia to pursue her graduate studies, and Roth has been recently named Concertmaster of the Tucson Symphony. I wish both of them continued success and offer my deepest gratitude for their superb artistry.

That said, I prefer to think of their departure not as a CSO loss, but as a reminder of the ensemble’s potent and magnetic attraction, helping draw musicians of their caliber.

Tom Wachunas