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The Boston Globe


Music Review

Unity and a rarity mark chamber concert

CAMBRIDGE — Chamber music is often analogized to a counterpoint of views, but Sunday’s Boston Chamber Music Society concert at Sanders Theatre presented a united front, so much so that when, near the beginning of Dmitri Shostakovich’s Op. 57 Piano Quintet, cellist (and BCMS founder) Ronald Thomas broke a string, one half expected the other players to follow suit. In approach and interpretation, the conversation was that of a like-minded gathering.

In the Shostakovich (restarted after a pause for restringing) those collective qualities were both apparent and effective. Big sounds were particularly big, the strings — violinists Harumi Rhodes and Ida Levin, BCMS artistic director Marcus Thompson on viola, and Thomas — digging in with weighty bows and ample vibrato, and pianist Mihae Lee ringing out with a firm touch. Soft sounds, as in Shostakovich’s furtive, understated Fugue, were hushed and sometimes uncannily still. Phrases and shapes were all on the amplified side, highlights all the brighter, shadows all the darker. Every movement — the obstreperous Scherzo, the silvery Intermezzo, the quizzical, half-smile Finale — was enhanced toward primary colors.

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